With a glowing grate and a pie piping hot

And so we begin the Christmas break, well earned and welcomed.  Time to stretch and breathe and to recognise all our blessings, which we might not have seen in the welter of the working week, but stop and listen.  Hear the hymns and carols and the sermon, however familiar, that might bring forgotten truths to mind.  Then step outside into raw nature, where wild creation is untampered with, and feel and hear the wind in the mountains and the trees singing creation’s own praise to its creator.

In the outdoor world you do not get away from Christmas – only from the commercial encrustations.  In the lane, in the wood or on the hill, you are sharing a sky with a couple who once threaded their way through the Judaean hills towards the town where an ancestor, a shepherd-king, guarded his flocks from lions beneath the open canopy of heaven, hiking through villages and through empty, desert places, stopping at night in tents around a bare fire built somehow in a treeless land, turning the warmth of the city behind them to find a hilltop town.  Later they would flee through the wild desert from the wrath of a city-dwelling king.  Christmas is all about the outdoor life.

For a week or so even for those town-bound, desk-bound salary-workers, the time is yours to turn your eyes up and explore the world about you.  Take to the fields and to the hills:  find the beauty that lies just beyond your vision.  At the end of the road there may be that perfect country pub, and there may the logs burn bright and the steak and ale pie be piping hot.

A merry and a blessed Christmas to one and all.

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