There are two level crossings in our village; the Selby to Leeds railway line cuts across the main road linking those two places which passes through the village; and the line crosses the stress-free back-road to York. More times than enough I have to stop at one of these crossings for one, two- and one time three- trains to cross. It must have been even busier when the now abandoned line just east of the main road crossing gates was in use.
The course of this now abandoned line- a short one linking the east-west Selby-Leeds line with the north-south East Coast Main Line- can be seen at several points from roads round here. Variously now a farm track, obliterated as it is built over by houses; and a feature in a field marked by a raised alignment or trees, it bears no resemblance to what would have been a well-maintained, and presumably vital part of the rail network. It invites nostalgia for what once was.
But it also invites reflection on the 'change and decay' that can come upon us. Change is inevitable, but decay is not. And yet I see in many of my contemporaries who embraced the faith ardently in former days, an abandonment of what was once vital. Sometimes, like an overgrown railway cutting, it is hard to discern what was once there. My own faith is much changed and developed, and deepened and (I pray) affirming of others, since its early days. This has been a process where God has remained vital to me, and the landscape round that has been pruned, sown, flattened, bulldozed, and much more, but has still been connected to God. I would not want it overgrown and abandoned, something others would wax nostalgic about, but robbed of all context and content to what it was.