In olden days, Rogationtide was a time when Christians ‘beat the bounds’. It was much more popular in rural areas and it consisted of a walk around the parish boundary with pauses for prayer. In some places, wooden crosses were erected as the procession moved round the boundary of the parish. This harks back to Celtic times when the placing of crosses were a symbolic act of re-claiming the land for Christ.
It was also a fun thing to do.
I have a very happy memory of walking, not so much around Parish Boundaries but right through a middle path which connected two neighbouring parishes through a wood.
Members of the congregations set off towards each other to meet up in a woodland chapel used by the nearby Scout Camp. A gentle stream flowed through the wood and the sun shone brightly that afternoon.
What I particularly remember was the carpet of bluebells, freshly opened. They brought a special magic to the day. Fancifully, I think of them as God’s late-spring waymarks guiding us away from the darkness of our world and showing us beauty. They became our guide towards the joy of Creation.
I was recently given a poem about bluebells, written by a friend, Nan Northam, in 1he 1930’s. She would have been about 15 at the time.
Here it is for you to enjoy. [Mr G]
I have seen bluebells in a wood, close blown:
fumed blue – like wood smoke, bluer grown.
And I have watched them move their bells to ring
blue changes in the joyous peals of Spring.
Blue changes, with a wistful note as though
the swift, blue Bird of Happiness skimmed low
to whisper in each upturned, listening ear
and then, with upward, curving sweep and dear
quick flash of blue wings, fled into the dim
dissolving azure of the world’s far rim;
his music lingering air-borne in the breeze
in echoes through blue shadows ’neath the trees.
We too can glimpse his swiftly passing flight,
we too must watch him sadly out of sight.