June - Minister's Letter
Darwen is a Lancashire mill town, nestled in a narrow valley just south of Blackburn. The Tower (with spiral steps leading up to an observation platform) was opened in 1898, primarily commemorating Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, but also a victory for the local people over a landowner, re-establishing their right to roam the moors. On a clear day the view from the top includes the peak district, Snowdonia, the Lake District and Blackpool Tower! A “walk up the tower” is usually a feature of our visits to my in-laws in Darwen.
This year the local council are running an art project – giant words, taken from poetry, being placed across the borough. “Of earth and sky” comes from a poem by William Wordsworth, titled “The Recluse”, in which he describes someone finding a place of beauty and tranquillity,
Of majesty, and beauty, and repose,
A blended holiness of earth and sky.
My initial reaction was a bit negative – why did we want those great letters standing on the hillside, cluttering the view? But thinking about them, and the way that the Tower has turned one of many similar hilltops in to something which draws people and gives them a new perspective, I have mellowed. Darwen Tower has become, for many, almost a place of pilgrimage – both as somewhere to go, but also somewhere to stand and stare, to look out at creation and see that it is good. Hills and valleys, fields and trees, earth and sea and sky.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1)
Let us remember that our God is Lord of Earth and Sky, and that creation reflects the glory of its creator. Perhaps we too can say that Jesus, in His holiness, blends “earth and sky”, human and divine. As the hymn-writer John Henry Newman put it, “Praise to the Holiest in the height, and in the depths be praise”.
As we hope for summer weather and as Covid restrictions ease, may we all find times and places where we can praise our creator and redeemer God.