Parallel to the main road, about ten minutes’ walk away, is a byway. The narrow track links a hamlet in the east to a market town in the west. In past centuries it was the main route. Then an A-road was built, now a noisy highway of continuous traffic with its attendant fumes and noise. The byway became a by-the-way, useless for vehicles and unseen by its drivers.

Far from being forlorn and forgotten, the byway thrives as a peace-filled haven for nature. Delicate flowers of blackthorn decorate its edges. Goldfinch, robin and blackbird serenade walkers who, tuned in to tranquillity, carefully tread its path. The byway emerges onto a lane with scattered cottages and farm buildings whose names reflect the past: Cheese House, Forge Cottage, Old Barn… A little bridge – great for Pooh sticks – spans a lazy river where trout lurk in the shallows, ducks paddle on the surface and kingfishers flash past above their heads.

Highways and byways. Drivers and walkers. Townies and country folk. Noise and quiet. VIPs and by-the-ways. Somebodies and nobodies (though no-one is a nobody in God’s eyes.) Jesus used local scenes to illustrate his stories. In one he told his followers to go everywhere – highways and hedges – to share God’s message of love and grace and his invitation: “Come!” The invitation stands today – wherever we are, whoever we are, whatever our circumstances.


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