Tadhg’s Journal: My [non-] encounter with God on the M40, just south of Birmingham

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Excerpt from Tadhg’s Journal: I’m heading home. As a latter-day Celt the definition of ‘home’ can be somewhat nebulous. Celts wandered.

I like to think, home is where the hearth [sic] is.

When I say, ‘home’, I mean the other place! If I’m in London, then home is Capel Curig in the mountainous, rugged and wild places of north Wales; or, if I’m at Capel Curig, then home is in the busy metropolis that is London – albeit a nice, leafy, ‘encaféd’ borough in the south-western part of that city, that nestles alongside the banks of the River Thames (but, no ‘London fogs’, like the old days, please).

But, right now I’m heading home to Capel Curig.

Driving my bright, red, little car, I like to take it easy on this journey – stopping two or three times – it is a ‘pilgrimage’ of sorts, and so there is no rush; and I’m eager to meet and interact with as many people along the way as I can, and ‘find’ God in the experience, too.

I stopped at Ashorne Service Station on the motorway (M40), earlier – it’s run by Welcome Break, you know – and apart from ‘adequate’ food, there’s not much to say about it. A standard service station, surrounded by a myriad of cars.

Ashorne Service Station: More, high octane in the air, than L’Occitane.

In my research of that establishment I noted, just now, that one online commentator said it was ‘fantastic, I always stop here’; another said, ‘It’s a disgrace…’; whilst a third said, ‘Clean toilets’. No pun intended.

There’s not much more to say about it. And, after having spent some forty minutes there, I drove onward.

I’m now at an awesome, homely (in the British sense of the word ie cosy, and home-like), little café, five miles from where I was half hour ago: then I had stopped, and ‘trekked’ (upward) to Cadair Idris (Welsh for Idris’ Chair), and a spectacular place it is, too.

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The myth (so it isn’t true…or is it?), is that it was once the haunt of a ferocious giant, called Idris. Indeed, he ruled from here, it is said – this was his throne, hence the name Cadair Idris, Idris’ Chair.

I used to frequent this area a lot – not so much now, but as a teenager (and into my twenties) I used to camp here. There are a few tranquil lakes nearby. Another local myth is that some of the lakes, such as Tal-y-llyn at the foot of Cadair Idris are ‘bottomless’.

And we all knew the warning to those who camped on the slopes of Cadair Idris, especially near one of the lakes: you would awake as a madman, or a poet, or not at all!

But, Cadair Idris is ‘God’s country’. As I looked around, near the summit, earlier, I breathed deeply and inhaled fresh, invigorating air, I saw for miles the grandeur that is Snowdonia, and felt the presence of God – truly that  was a ‘thin place’.

Mae mwy (as they say in Wales)…there’s more.

As I sit here, drinking coffee, now, writing in my journal, recollecting the wonders of that mountain at Cadair Idris, I’m compelled to compare and contrast the similarities between Cadair Idris and Ashorne Service Station.

You see, as ‘opposite’ to each other as they seem to be, and as I’m a Celt (and Celt’s believe that God is everywhere), then the God who is present at Cadair Idris, is also present at Ashorne Service Station.

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ Genesis 28:16, The Book.

What is different, is me! I felt the presence of God at Cadair Idris, but didn’t at the Service Station.

I do believe God is ubiquitous, but what was different was that I was ‘allowing’ myself to ‘feel’ God on that mountain top, but my prejudices and ‘motorway shallowness’, lack of perception and sense of urgency just wasn’t attuned to the-God-of-the-service-station.

Are you like that, sometimes? Oblivious to God’s presence?

I pride myself on being an ‘aware’ person, but I know that such awareness is intermittent.

Maybe, of all the places of encountering God on this ‘pilgrimage’ home, of Cadair Idris, of Ashorne Service Station, maybe the Source of All is present, even in this little café as I write? Ofcourse, that is the case, which means, that, wherever you are reading this, that God, the Source of All, the One-Who-Sings-To-You-As-You-Sleep, the Silent-Witness-Of-Your-Driving, The Provider, the Friend is present with you.

But, that’s enough theology! It’s time to drive home on the last leg of my journey.

1 thought on “Tadhg’s Journal: My [non-] encounter with God on the M40, just south of Birmingham

  1. Often, when reading something about “God’s Place”, the reality of my place is not “God’s Place” requires no fanfare. Am I truly scared, to let God’s vision show me where I am needed; perhaps to find Him, in an area that you need only hearing and smell to grasp the need; where “Just as I am” means to step out-finally. Thank you for your writing.


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