An advert for the annual Norfolk Churches Trust bike ride reminded me what a joy church crawling by bike can be. Swapping feet for wheels I set out under a summer sky.
East of Beeston, St. Laurence I found myself meandering down quiet lanes towards St. Michael and All Angels,Barton Turf. When I got there I found an open door, a warm welcome to visitors (make yourself a cup of coffee) and a vibrant stillness.
Its 15th century rood screen has St. Michael and the nine orders of angels. Wandering in the churchyard before taking my leave I saw that the local church has a care for other feathered friends too! There’s an owl box high in an old oak tree!
My next church destination would be St. Michael, Irstead. But on the way , I popped into the White Horse at Neatistead for refreshments and explored the edge of Barton Broad.
At Heron’s Carr there’s boardwalk that gives wheelchair access through the woody marsh and on to a lookout point overlooking the broad. Norfolk Wildlife Trust are doing wonders with Barton Broad. In order to regenerate the polluted waters they pumped tons of nitrate and phosphate rich mud from the bottom. Now wildlife is thriving!
Butterflies and Dragon Flies were in the air as I walked to the viewpoint among the reeds. Out on the broad Common Terns and Great Crested Grebes dived for fish. Among the boats dashing to and fro on a stiff breeze were those of the Nancy Oldfield Trust. Based at Neatishead they providing water based activities for people with disabilities.
Arriving at Irstead I admired a carving of St. Michael over the church porch. He’s wrestling with a great serpent! As I sat reflectively in church thinking about angels and the fight against evil, I pondered the Evensong verse and response:-
Give peace in our time, O Lord : .Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou, O God.
I concluded that it’s not accurate ! You can read of St. Michael and all the hosts of heaven fighting against evil in the book Revelation. And beyond them, what about the people who maintain our places of worship? Put up owl boxes? Run pubs? Provide specialist help for the disabled? And preserve and redeem those parts of the natural world that are in danger of being lost? Are not they not also on the side of the angels ?!