I’ve just had a very timely retreat at Sheldon, in Devon. I spent much of the week putting off dealing with the big emotional issue that I’ll soon be leaving my present churches and moving on. But if you’ve got to deal with something tough, or try to avoid doing so, you may as well be in a place of extraordinary natural beauty and an atmosphere of loving care. So I was in the right place.

Teign Valley


On Sunday morning, there was a thick frost.  In the twilight, I walked out to a sheltered dell and sat and waited for the sunrise, which I expected over the crest of a hill quite soon. It was a beautiful morning, crisp and quiet. No wind blew, no birds sang, all the humans were snug and quiet in their distant beds. The only sound was the patter of leaves dropping from an ash tree. I sat and waited for the sun. I waited and I waited. I could see sunshine on the hills behind, across the valley to the west. Maybe the sun was going to leave me out today. I waited and I waited. Maybe the sun had risen as much as it wanted today. There was a bright patch just above the crest, but it was just sunlight diffracting in a cloud, that drifted away. I waited and I waited, growing steadily colder. Then it came – at first a dazzling too-bright peep but once it had started, the sun rose rose very quickly. The dell was filled with light. The leaves shone vivid green. The birds started to sing. It was stunningly glorious.

Sheldon sunrise

“My soul waits for the Lord,

more than watchmen for the morning.”

(Psalm 130.6)

God does come. In his time, and with light and fire for a frosty world, and with the gentle rain of blessing, like falling leaves in an autumn sunrise.

“O Israel, hope in the Lord!

For with the Lord there is steadfast love,

and with God is plentiful redemption.”

(Psalm 130.7)


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