The United Kingdom is quite small. I think that, even including the Republic of Ireland, which is not part of the U.K., the British Isles as a whole is about 100,000 square miles, which compared to the U.S. and Australia and India, and many other countries, is quite small. Consider as well that there are over 60 million people in the British Isles, too, and that’s a lot of people in a relatively small place. You would think then that we would be very overcrowded, but that is not really true at all. London is by far the biggest city in the British Isles, by geographic size and population, and then Birmingham, probably followed by many other similar sized cities like Manchester, Dublin, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow and others, which though also varying in size and population with each other, tend to hold similar sway over the surrounding areas where they are. But once out of the cities and towns, there is a whole world that is very different. In England alone, about 88% of the population live on just over 12% of the land, which is incredible really. That means that there is a lot of land to explore, a lot of small towns and villages that even very few British people are really aware of, especially city dwellers like me. British cities definitely have a different feel from each other, and of course we all have different accents too, which seems to come as a bit of a surprise to many people around the world, even some Americans! But cities do have a tendency to start looking similar, the McDonalds, the Costa, the Caffe Nero, the expensive shopping area, the damn near impossible task to find a parking space, and so on pushing out any real regional identity in the process. But that’s another story.
I know that when I am stressed out or feeling under a lot of pressure, my default attitude is to want to disappear over the horizon to some lonely place far off the beaten track, and I suppose lots of people these days want to do the same with the stresses and strains of modern life, and the struggle with money and finding a job and settling down, and other things we all struggle with now and again. It’s more than a pipe dream, but always tinged with some kind of sadness or maybe more a sense of desperation. It may also be that I haven’t done a lot of exploring my own country and I have never actually gone camping in my life, either. But it is more than that, a whole lot more. We all get dissatisfied with our lives sometimes, and even when we have all we need and even all we want, it isn’t enough to satisfy. There is a sense of desperation in being two steps from real poverty, which I am not by the way, but there is also spiritual malaise in having everything in a material sense and still feeling empty inside. I have a dream of living in remote and sparsely populated North Wales, in a nice wooded area in a nice little caravan near hills and small mountains, where when it is night I can get to the highest point and see nothing but darkness with maybe the lights of a very small town or village dotted here and there far off on the horizon, but not too near. I realise that it is merely me wanting to run away from myself, and that will never happen. In some respects, I have been living in that mentality for many years. I felt a failure, everything I seemed to do either failed or didn’t seem to work out, and so for a long time I have dreaded every day and dreaded the future. I am also one of those people who need some kind of routine, but who also gets bored to some degree with routine and knowing where I will be on a particular day. For me, my Christian walk is and has to be on a daily basis. And, believe me, only the Lord can really deal with my moods. But what I like to do is take off for the day sometimes and walk somewhere like a lonely beach, or a country path, and I do take holidays in North Wales, which is very different from the city I live in. Beautiful small towns, often churches from the mediaeval period which have interiors from many eras, castles everywhere, nice pubs, loads of reasonably priced cafes, a great public transport system, lots of things to see and do, and you are never far from magnificent and isolated unspoilt countryside, where you can roam physically and also let your mind wander too. I could work for the North Welsh Tourist Board, I’m that passionate about North Wales, but they don’t need anyone really as they are very good at promoting North Wales anyway.
I need my space sometimes. I need to walk along empty and lonely beaches and see the rocks strewn here and there and the sound of birds looking for food among the shallow pools left behind when the tide has gone out. I need to walk along country lanes or lonely wooded areas surrounded by farmland and little villages with old churches complete with the classic spire far in the distance, set in gently rolling countryside, with birds singing gently and the odd insect buzzing here and there. It’s also that I can experience God alone and away from everything and everyone I know. It’s just me and Him. I believe that sometimes it is good to get away from all the things that are your normal routine, time and circumstances permitting of course, and being on your own, or just you and God. His Creation is magnificent and many of us certainly do not reflect on that anywhere near as much as we could or should. I love cities and all the amenities and shops and things we take for granted, but I thank God that even in the relatively small set of islands I find myself in there are thousands of square miles of beautiful, often remote and definitely unspoiled countryside filled with great things to see and do, and particularly long and interesting histories, with the odd dot of old blood here and there, and most of all places to walk for miles in tree laden hills, woods, little rivers, valleys and greenery at every turn.
I have been going ‘through the mill’ in the last couple of years with bouts of unemployment, bouts of depression here and there, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) for the last 15 years, which got really bad at the start of 2016 and has caused me so many physical and emotional problems. The only good thing that has come out of it is that I am focussing a lot more on God now, and I am in the process of asking for and being healed from the awful CFS I have. I wouldn’t wish CFS on any human being, as it is a raft of symptoms that includes muscle aches and pains, physical tiredness, headaches, stomach problems, neuralgic pain in various places, feeling distracted and agitated, ‘brain fog’ or memory problems and inability to concentrate and other things, with the icing on the cake for me being a problem with sleeping which can exacerbate everything else. In all of this, I have had to call on God in great despair and frustration at illness that comes and goes, and I have simply asked God, and I always speak to Him in the most normal and intimate way as if He is my ‘best mate’, because He is I suppose. At one point, a few days ago of this writing, I felt so physically and indescribably awful that all I could do was crawl to God on my knees and I sat before Him begging, pleading and just asking Him to heal me of this. I was there for 45 minutes or so, and I also asked Him what the illness was about, and even if He wouldn’t heal me, then why not. The worst of it lifted from me. I am not completely healed as of yet, and I understand that God is taking me through a healing process. I also know someone in my hometown who is a pastor who was healed over a period of 18 months from CFS, and he had it much worse than me. Before he was healed he was walking around, well hobbling, on a walking stick and was suffering other complications as I have. Now, he is completely cured and preaches the Gospel in our area and all over the world. God has the power to heal ALL ailments, physical and mental, but we have to dig into our faith, and that means making time for God. Got it? Good.