This picture is of Beech Clump, near Kilmington Village, Wiltshire. Back in the mid 1970s my then boyfriend’s paternal grandparents lived at Kilmington and we would go and visit occasionally. As we would drive along the B3092 from Frome he would point out a hill with a clump of beech trees on it that pushed out of the flat plains but was dwarfed by White Sheet Hill ridgeway behind it. Back then there was a large gap in the centre of the trees and Steve would tell me about an RAF plane that had crashed there killing all on board, and of how his father and his father’s friends went over to the hill, once it was safe to do so, and took away pieces of airplane. The narrative 40+ years ago was that the trees would never grow back again because of the trauma that had happened to the land. Though back in the mid 70s the word “trauma” would not have been used.
This weekend my husband and I stayed in a self-catering cottage in Mere so we could visit both our mothers who live half an hour in each direction from Mere. It was our first trip outside of Wales since lockdown so was a bit of an intrepid adventure. On our first night in the cottage we climbed Castle Hill, Mere, and as I looked over I saw Beech Clump. It now has a full head of trees and doesn’t look as if anything has happened there.
I went back up Castle Hill first thing Saturday morning just me and the dog and, as the mist was rising, looked over again at Beech Hill. I felt as if God/the Universe was saying that if we give it time then our trauma will heal and things will grow again. The traumas that have happened to us are real and they hurt a lot and we are not to live in denial of them. But given time to work through the dross, to cleanse and heal things can grow again. The deep thing for me was that nothing can grow and we cannot be all we are meant to be unless we allow ourselves time to heal. It is all about time and waiting.
Beech Clump is once again restored to being a hill with a clump of beech trees on it, but it was still the place where 20 RAF airmen where tragically killed back in 1945, which I think is even more tragic because it was so close to the end of the war. It was also very exciting to come across RAF Zeals and the Dakota Memorial, Beech Clump and find that there is a memorial to the airmen who were killed, each listed by name. So the trauma is remembered, acknowledged, but the land has healed and become all it is meant to be. That means the same can happen to me, to you, to anyone.
Ok so yes we are in a new place with a new house and new things all around us. I still don’t know where to find half the stuff I want to buy, get excited when I find the butcher and get me meats I want, etc. So yes to a point it is a fresh start. But will that make things better? And what do we mean by better? Will we have the perfect marriage because we now live in North Wales? Will I get around to doing all those things I’ve always wanted to do? Yes maybe! But there are some truths we have to admit beforehand!
See, and I discovered this a long time ago, is that when you move you take yourself with you. There was a song back in the 1980’s by Crowded House called “Weather with you” which I wish I’d listened to clearer which says that basically wherever you go you take you with you. Now I have travelled lots not so much to find myself but to get away from myself. I was trying to escape who I was and yet the crazed, insecure person kept turning up. I’d get into relationships in the hope that they would take over and help me to be ok. But again I kept turning up in them and doing the same crazy things I always did. Eventually I met with God and realised that He loved me for who I was – crazy, scared, insecure, looking everywhere and blaming every thing else rather than at me. And you know once I got to accept that unconditional love I could then start looking at me and who I really am. I like me now. I’ve stopped running away from me now. I do like the fact that I can move 250+ miles and I come too. Ok there are bits of me I would like to change that do keep coming along. I have to decide whether to accept or change those bits. I think that I have to accept before I change.
But also what has come too is the pain and grief of the last few years. I’ve seen a facebook message from a young friend about a friend of his who has died at 23. It brings back to me the rubbish loss of life too soon, of how God doesn’t come through as a knight in shining armour and change it all, keep people alive. Somehow God works things differently. So I’ve had to take my scars and wounds with me. They didn’t stay behind in the old house, they couldn’t be stripped off and thrown away like the new owners did with all the decorating we had in that old house of ours. The scars are a part of me too. They come along. A change of venue doesn’t make them vanish. That isn’t to say I dwell on them and tell people. It doesn’t mean I look at them and pick at them every day. These are scars that God has been healing but they remain as who I am. Without sounding blasphemous, but like Jesus scars from the cross. They didn’t vanish because we all have to see and remember what He went through but that doesn’t mean He dwells on them. Without my stuff I wouldn’t be me!
And you know in reality I don’t want to start here as a clean slate. I want to be here as me with all the things I come with; good and bad. Because of my journey and because of who I am it helps me to be able to weep when others weep and also rejoice when other rejoice. If we are to give a safe, hospitable space to others we do have to remember who we are and where we’ve come from, to accept ourselves and our circumstances, good and bad, and let our lives and what we have to give flow from there. I think too that if we can accept that change of location doesn’t change us then we have so much more to give.
Though also we need to remember that – wherever place we can change and grow so long as we can accept and love who we are now. And also let God set the pace not us!