ON THE EDGE OF THE BARLEY FIELD
My walk takes me down to the estuary at Sandgate, only a few minutes from where I’m
staying. It is late summer and the colours of the fields all around are green with lush
grass, with golds and yellows of the grain waiting to be harvested. The harvest is late for
some this year with the grey and rainy weather August brought. But now the sun is a
bright shining ball in the sky and as it begins to sink down over the estuary the sky
becomes tinged with reds and oranges as if someone took a wet paintbrush and ran it
across the sky. The geese are heading noisily toward the estuary, the rooks are chattering
on there way to the woods to roost and somewhere on the distant bay I can hear the
whistle and cheep of the curlews.
I’ve found a new footpath for my walks, accessible through the rusty kissing gate on the
edge of the barley field. Strange that I’ve passed this way many times and have only just
noticed it. Going through that rusty little gate is like being transported into a different
world. Now today as I make my way along the little path I am filled once again with surprise
at how beautiful this field of barley looks and how the earth has once again, done
her magic. The hedgerow has lost its abundance of early summer colour from the
campion, the vetch and the cow parsley but now it is abundant with blackberries on the
brambles and ripening sloes hanging on the blackthorn, butterflies and moths dance on
the thistles. The world, despite this pandemic, has continued to turn and here we are
harvesting her rewards once more.
I turn to look back to the estuary and as I do, the sun has become a golden ball of light in
the sky streaming its rays right onto my path. I have a sense of energy and connection
with something special in this place. I am deeply moved by the beauty of it all but more
than that, I have an awareness that this is a very special moment here in this “thin place”.
And I feel overwhelmingly privileged and humbled to be in it.
What is it about these places that called to our ancestors to erect standing stones or
crosses or to build a little church in certain places or as in the case of nearby Cartmel to
build a priory and to form a monastic community. Why were these places so special that
someone had to mark them with a signpost for others to see and know that here was a
“thin place” - a place that Kerri ni Dochartaigh in her book “Thin Places” describes as
“these liminal spaces - those in-between places - those unnamable places, not to be
found on any map” where we are given the chance to be alone, to pause and to ponder
and to wonder what lies behind this life we are leading.
It’s been a difficult summer for me with so many changes, endings and unknowns. There
were hard things to do and truth be told I’m still feeling battered from the recriminations
and guilt. But now such is the sense of peace, thoughts fall away and I sense a “knowing”
that I am part of this light, this moment of stillness and a feeling of hope comes to me.
Here in a place where the veil between this world and the eternal world is so thin they
almost become one, I have a sense of meeting myself once again and my spirit rises in
that “still point” on the edge of the barley field. There will be days, maybe even in the
same place, where I won’t have that sense again. Perhaps the veil will be thicker on other
days. Yet this I do know, every time I walk on the edge of the barley field or look at the
little drawing I’ve done, I will remember that moment and for now, that will be enough.