A journey is something we all embark on.
And that journey is called life, and we experience new things every day until the day we die. Sometimes we expect these things, and sometimes they are truly unexpected.
One agnostic named Gawan Mac Greigair went on one such unexpected journey a few days ago. And found something he didn’t think he would.
You see he had bought an Ordnance Survey (national mapping agency in the United Kingdom) hiking map and found a worship symbol on it. Now, this may seem normal, but the symbol was actually ‘in the middle of bloody nowhere’ so he became quite curious.
It’s 4cm to 1 mile, so it’s the right scale to be able to include symbols for intriguing things in the landscape, including historic monuments, ancient earthworks, places of worship and so on.
I happened to have a free afternoon on that day, and there was heavy fog blanketing the top of the North Downs all day. I couldn’t resist the chance of an otherworldly walk in mist.
The North Downs is a range of chalk hills in Kent (which give the White Cliffs of Dover their whiteness) – it’s classed as ‘Ancient Countryside’, and it is full of secretive nooks and crannies, and has a long history.
I had seen this symbol on the map before and it had intrigued me because it seemed unusual that a place of worship would be located quite far from any village and that it would be right on the edge of a woodland.
This place is certainly one, helped by the apparent merging of this ancient human structure with the woodland crowding close.
The most memorable part was the moment when – after thinking I had lost my way in the wood – I was approaching where the symbol on the map seemed to suggest the place of worship ought to be.
I was straining to find it through the mist, which was difficult given that I didn’t know whether to look for a ruin, a pile of stones or an actual church. I think I gasped at the moment when I realized I was looking straight at it.
-Gawan Mac Greigair