I was at a retreat for members of the Deanery clergy, sometime in the early '80s. One afternoon I went for a walk on the hills above the retreat house (which was later sold to the footballer Phil Neville) and took my camera with me. It was lovely weather when I started out- as you can see- and then a storm blew up and I got very wet. It's no joke being caught out on the hills in bad weather. Especially if you're lost- as I was. You could get yourself killed.
Anyway the heart of the experience is in the poem,
A soft-voiced bishop was speaking to us
In the music room. It was stuffed with vicars
Mostly in mufti. A marble Venus
Standing in roses up to her hips
Gazed in at us and a little stream,
Tipped from the hill, went clattering past
Down a stepped cascade.
I found a path. There were purple shadows
On ochre fields. There were bones of sheep
In the tough old grass and a barn or two
With their roofs knocked off. When the storm grew over
I hadn't even a coat to keep off
The beating it gave me. I came back down
With shoes full of water.
On urban mission. A god as loving
And hard to pin down as the city council
Had not been much to my taste in the hills.
It's not that the rainstorm broke my faith;
That took much longer. It's only that after
The conference I could remember nothing
The bishop had said. I had only the droning
Mellifluous tone of his voice to counter
The shout of the cascade under the window,
The roar of the rain and, after it stopped,
The slap-happy sound of a hillside, drinking.