“Allo, Allo, Allo. What have we here?” Possibly not all, but some of us, can recall these words from a policeman on the beat. Those are the words that flashed into my mind as I sat on Dartmoor observing the following scene evolving before my eyes.
Last week we were holidaying on Dartmoor. We had back-to-back sunshine for the whole week – which is most unusual. This particular afternoon we were sitting high up on the Moor where the vista in the distance was of patchwork fields. We were enjoying the Moors in the company of a herd of Dartmoor ponies and their foals. It was so hot that I sat in the car with all the doors open with a welcome breeze keeping me cool. However, my husband sat a few feet in front of the car, in the blazing sun, reading.
A large brown pony sidled past the front of the car and walked towards John’s chair. There I was, facing the hind quarters of this animal, visualising the outcome of the horse breathing down John’s neck and my responsibility to rescue John if it was at all possible. If I moved or tried to attract John’s attention, I could scare the animal and put John’s safety in jeopardy, or I could sit tight and pray that all would end peaceably. I decided that to sit tight and say nothing was the better option. The horse, leaning forward, rested his head on John’s shoulder and took a nibble of John’s book and I could just imagine the scene where a policeman on the beat comes up behind, puts his hand on the person’s shoulder and enquires what he is doing. To my consternation two other horses ambled up in front of John and by then I was panicking! Thankfully the encounter was a friendly one, the horses ambled off and John, who is very different to me, was quite unperturbed by the whole incident.
Feet away from our car were horses and their foals, a skylark feeding its brood which had fledged and were enjoying the safety of the gorse bushes, a baby rabbit scurrying into the open and then hopping under cover again and cows with their calves, sheep with their lambs now nearly as big as themselves in the distance, and the occasional bird of prey flying high above the rocky crop on top of the tors.
The thought came to me, “Who does this wonderful landscape really belong to – these creatures or the ramblers and cyclists and sightseers?” Everything that I gazed out upon was made by the hand of the Creator so he owns it and gave it to his creatures and because we can know him as our loving Heavenly Father, what is his becomes ours too. He has entrusted it to us. We were on holiday so we had the time to appreciate all that was happening around us but perhaps this should become more of a feature in our everyday lives. We can strive for so much, but our Creator has surrounded us with life and beauty and provision for all he has made – and he invites us to take time to appreciate and enjoy the gifts he freely offers us.