Inspired Wastwater – A favourite piece of holy ground

To mark Creation Tide we are running the Inspired by Creation competition. During September we have asked a few people to share their reflections. Here the Bishop of  Oxford – the Rt Rev John Pritchard shares his special place of inspiration.

When we asked Bishop John about where he was inspired by creation he immediately said Wastwater in the Lake District.

Photo: Wastwater – Lake District by +John

“Many people have a favourite piece of holy ground, somewhere where the veil between heaven and earth seems very thin. Mine is in the Lake District where you look down Wastwater to the great mountains of Yewbarrow, Great Gable and the flanks of Scafell Pike. This is where time stands still for me and I am put gently but firmly in my place before the beauty and scale of God.

The view of Wasdale is iconic. It’s often used by those who want to advertise or promote the Lake District, but for me it speaks of majesty, adventure, refreshment, innocence – a whole host of profound emotions tied up with some life-long values.

I’ve loved the Lake District all my life, since I went up there year after year from Blackpool, with friends and family. The excitement of the first glimpse we would get of these sleeping giants goes through me still: life was about to become infinitely richer, the colours sharper, the wind more bracing; everything was about to feel ‘right’.

Three of us once stayed in a National Trust cottage just here, from where this photo was taken. I could look at that view forever, watching the ever-changing play of light and shade, feeling deeply at one with every element before me. Indeed it wasn’t a scene to stick in the photo album; it was a place to ponder the vicissitudes of life, to ask big, unanswerable questions. It was a place to dream, to make resolutions, to imagine a better world. It was a gateway to something so beautiful you spoke in hushed tones; you almost wanted to cry.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God:

But only he who sees, takes off his shoes;

The rest sit around it, and pluck blackberries.

I’m dying to get back to the Lake District sometime next year. It’s a place I ‘take off my shoes’. The mountains and lakes, the colours and sounds, the feel of the wind caressing or blasting my face – it’s all profoundly renewing. And it takes me under the surface of our personal and social superficiality and into the mystery of the God who ‘wrote’ nature before he ‘wrote’ the Bible.”

Bishop of Oxford – the Rt Rev John Pritchard

Where are you inspired by creation? For full details and to enter the competition visit:

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