So remarked a friend of mine as I told her about my recent pilgrimage and showed her the photographs I had taken. These depicted some lovely landscapes and picturesque churches as I walked across the beautiful English counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire on my way to the big city of Birmingham. Here, my photos became very different with strongly urban scenes including two quite stark views of walking under Spaghetti Junction, one of the biggest and busiest motorway interchanges in Europe.
It was these photos in particular that seemed to provoke my friend’s comment. This was hardly surprising with scenes of what could quite accurately be described as an urban jungle with its huge concrete supports for the roads far overhead. What had happened to all those photos of pretty countryside and historic places of worship? How could I then go on to photograph such an apparently ugly scene, complete with some rather questionable graffiti?
I immediately protested at what she said, insisting (but not too harshly I hope) that my pilgrimages seek to engage with all the variety of landscape that can be found in contemporary Britain and, of course, the people who live and work in so many different places.
There, feeling quite alone below the maze of roads, a solitary cyclist had called out to me from another walkway to ask if I was OK. Just there below the motorway intersection, this fellow traveller had noticed me and cared enough to shout and get my attention in that strange and echoing gloom.
Even more wonderful in that unpromising place was finding that a river flows and birds sing. Oblivious to the traffic high above it, nature seemed to be doing rather well!
Yes, I had walked through beautiful countryside and then I came to this.
God reveals a little of Himself in all sorts of places; whether in the unexpected beauty of birdsong and the flow of a river or in the care shown by one human being made in His image to a stranger passing by.
God is with us wherever we are, as much in the stark landscape of the city as in peacefulness of the countryside.