writing on the wall logo

Linda France
renga report

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At Heavenfield it’s hard to tell if it’s you that’s high or the sky that’s low. As soon as you step off the Military Road and walk through the gate next to the sturdy wooden cross, you’re in meadow – buttercups, grasses, dock –and the clouds roll over your head east towards the city and the sea.

The old stone wall round the churchyard borders sycamore trees and nettles, lush and rampant green above and below. A blue swing sways in the breeze: you watch it and the way your thoughts weave in and out of everything that’s there and everything that isn’t; the sounds of birds and sheep and cars in the distance. You can smell animal and earth, a hint of autumn in the air - ripeness.

In the graveyard you can sit on a seat of wood and stone and see the whole of the North unfold in front of you, the blaze of the Cheviot on the horizon. A metal plaque tells you it’s dedicated to one Alexander Mason, born at Heavenfield on 2nd June 1906 and died a couple of miles along the Wall at High Brunton on 6th February 1997. That seems to suit this place, so deeply rooted in time and continuity, where what is important can bear fruit.

Rain will thread you into the church, the small fusty vestry, cluttered with heaters and hymn numbers, boards telling you the story of King Oswald and how a heavenly light appeared all night over his bones and invested them with the power to deliver souls possessed with devils. And so your thoughts find new hooks to hang themselves on, a different quality of light to see by. Working with renga, it occurs to you, it’s not by hand you write but by breath, coming and going, open as the sky over Heavenfield.

Linda France

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