Myth & Moor update
The Wild Time of the Sickbed

Morning has broken

Easter sunrise, Nattadon Hill

On Easter morning, 2018:

The ancient church at the heart of our village hosts an annual Easter Sunrise Service -- held this year on the top of Nattadon, the tall hill just behind our house. I happened to wake very early on Easter morning, so while the rest of the family slept I dressed in my warmest jumper and skirt, laced on my studiest walking boots, whistled for Tilly, and headed out in the cold and dark.

We climbed through the oaks of Nattadon Woods and onto the open slope of the hill, the rain-rutted pathway grown visible now in the indigo light of dawn. Tilly raced ahead while I straggled behind, stopping often to catch my breath. During better times, the hound and I climb Nattadon almost every day, bounding up and down like mountain goats -- but health problems over the last several weeks have kept me on lower, easier trails. I was sorry to see how much strength I had lost as I wound my way slowly upward.

Easter sunrise, Nattadon Hill

Easter sunrise, Nattadon Hill

 At last we reached the top of the hill. A number of people were gathered there, sharing tea and coffee and hot-cross buns, while a small fire blazed and the sun slowly rose behind clouds laying thick on the moor. *

It touched me to receive a warm welcome, despite not being Christian myself. I thought about all the centuries in which a pagan woman like me would have much to fear from the Christian church -- and so, as the Easter Service began and I silently added my own form of prayer, I felt a bone deep gratitude for this moment of inter-faith fellowship. A long time coming (historically speaking), hard won and precious. May it always be so.

Easter sunrise, Nattadon Hill

The hymn chosen for the service was one I love: "Morning Is Broken" by Eleanor Farjeon. Yes, the same Eleanor Farjeon who wrote The Glass Slipper and other classics of children's fiction.

I first knew the song through Cat Stevens' version when I was an adolescent in the 1970s, and it has personal significance. There were nights as a child when I could not sleep at home due to my stepfather's violence, so I'd sleep instead somewhere outdoors (if the weather was warm enough), or in the family car (if it was cold) -- sometimes alone, and sometimes with my young brothers curled up beside me. I've always been an early riser, and many a morning as the sky lightened I'd sing "Morning Has Broken" to cheer myself up. Back then, I could not have imagined I'd also sing it one day in the hills of south-west England, with my neighbors around me, my good dog beside me, my husband and daughter fast asleep in our warm little house below....

Yes, reader, I cried. I admit it.

Morning had broken. And we headed home.

Easter hound, Nattadon Hill

Easter sunrise, Nattadon Hill

* I didn't photograph the Sunrise Service, or the people attending, in respect of privacy and the sacred nature of the event. These pictures of the fire were taken afterwards, with the Vicar's permission.

Comments

I am moved to read this account, Terri. And glad for you that you found just enough strength to walk your old ways with Tilly and attend this open air ceremony, full of personal significance.

Today is my birthday, and opening your blog page feels like opening a present. I haven't managed a walk for months and must continue to rest in quiet stillness, hoping it will not be too long before I'm out in the natural world once again.

A very moving post. I've always loved that song too. My uncle had it sung at his funeral and I think I'll request the same. And Farjeon's stories speak to me, I tell several.

Happy birthday to you, Helen. Blessings on the day.

Much love and long warm hugs to you and Howard.

Sharing tears with you - of joy that you are now safe and loved. I'm one of those weird Pagan Christians. Happy Easter.

What a tenderly beautiful story. Blessings of the season to you. I hope your strength continues to grow.

I was so moved by this post and share in your happiness for having found a spiritual home for your family and for your own soul in Devon. To find peace in heart and mind, after suffering an environment filled with strife, is a gift to oneself. I know it myself and have my own little warm home, footpaths and streams, and a small dog by my side. And I am grateful this Easter for all of that.

Thank you Terri, for this post. I too was very moved, by the personal meaning of the song for you, and by how blessed you are to have moved beyond that time of difficulty. Wishing you health and healing.

such a beautiful post and song, so full of love for the dawning of the day

To me as well, Cat Steven's version of Morning has broken gained a special significance... many years ago. So I was deeply moved by your account of this Easter Sunrise. May many birds speak like the first bird in every morning to come!

sounds like a beautiful, and deeply heart-opening, moment. what a wonderful way to welcome spring, on the hillside at dawn. hope you are feeling better now.

Ach! Such a beautiful post! I am cheered you are up and about again. I don't remember how I tripped across your blog, but it is a joy to read. Been to the dentist today, blegh, so happy to see your pics and read your touching post. And I am in love with dear Tilly! In Canada, at school, we had what was called Assembly, where we gathered in the gym and sang Morning Has Broken at every one. No idea who decided this should be so, but happy to have had that song as a regular part of my childhood! Much healing and renewal to you Terri!

Lovely lovely lovely
Another version with love

Wishing you returning strength, Terri. Your words always bring clarity and contemplation and quiet joy. Do you know Sandy Denny's cover of Mimi & Richard Farina's song, The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood? So often as I read your posts of Devon and your life there, it feels like that soundtrack come to life and earth.
I share it here so you might have the joy of it, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHstyoGkMIU

Very beautiful. I'm always looking forward to your inspiring posts.

Such a great feeling when people with different beliefs can come together in harmony. It takes special people, who live what they believe, rather than those who just preach about love and brotherhood. I am so glad to hear you made it up that hill. My small congregation of "many beliefs" often sings that hymn, and it does have a special place in my heart as well. May you continue to heal and regain your strength. And a head pat to Tilly too.

What a beautiful sentiment in your post. My roommate and I also hit the trails early Easter Sunday morning. While we are also both pagans we appreciate the quiet and beauty of Easter. Although ours didn’t end with a beautiful bonfire the sense of quiet was wonderful as we strolled through our ‘church ‘. Morning has broken indeed!

I also know the joy of peace after a childhood facing violence and strife. So glad that you have yours in the beauty of Devon!

So kind of you - my belated thanks. I am re-reading your archived blog posts on illness and healing, and finding much comfort there. Brain fog and poor concentration are always issues now, but that means I keep stumbling over thoughts and quotations in your posts that slipped my notice on previous readings.

We went to the Botanical Garden on Easter. Not as lovely as yours, but lovely still.

Here's wishing you continued [and more] health and strength. Thank you for your posts!

Oh Terri, this brought me such chills of gratitude. Thank you. <3

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