I believe in God. I believe everyone gets to see God, at least once in a while. This is what happened with God in Grasmere.
When we arrived in Grasmere, after a three and a half hour journey from Coventry, darkness was already setting in. We drove past Windermere, past River Rothay and the Swan Hotel to Chestnut Villa. By the time we settled in the room, the outside was pitch black. We went out in search of dinner.
Growing up in India, to protective parents, I’ve been told not to go out in the dark. If we ventured out after dark, it was to places we knew by heart- well lit places, safe, also known as decent places. Sky full of stars was always a beautiful concept. When we went out that night, we had rough directions to the Co-op. The roads were without pavements, without light. We were scared to go out in the dark, but fear of an empty stomach through the night kept us going. The space around us was immense. Small houses, empty lands, mountains standing guard, stars watching. Stars watching. This was the light of Grasmere, a silver sheet of redemption upon everything pitch. The sky above us was the open land our earth was always meant to be. Dotting them were stars in bunches, constellations and many united galaxies, so many of them looking upon us with a calm I couldn’t understand. I had no flashing memory to go with what I was experiencing and realised that even if I did have any, the immenseness of that moment, the warmth of the company, would write over them. We held hands and walked across a bridge. The River Rothay flowed beneath us, adding to the noise of the night. Now and then, a car would pass us, lighting the road ahead of us. In that glimpse of manmade light, the stars would vanish. Only to return again, with the going away of the cars.
When you walk down a road once, it somewhat becomes yours. When you walk back up the same road again, you call it a return. When we left the Co-op and walked up the road overlooked by black mountains, it was a return to those stars. A return to everything we had once seen somewhere, forgotten and walked away from. The things we spoke, the freshness and truth of our words was all a return. Half way through, our bodies just wanted to stand underneath those stars and envy filled my head as I imagined a Grasmere two hundred years ago. A Grasmere untouched by such civilisation. A Grasmere walked by Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey. I imagined them carrying lamps in the dark, walking across fields, underneath the same stars, perhaps more in number, more in visibility, talking about their goings and comings.
We visited St. Oswald’s church the next day. So quietly, like the daffodils he had written about, was Wordsworth, nestled amidst a line of family graves. Perhaps when spring is in full bloom, daffodils will line these graves, give him a poem, even in death. And Rothay flowed next to them, reflecting bridges and roofs of houses, people peering into the water; also, something like the calm of the stars.
There was something very unreal about those times in Grasmere. As if the Rothay, the daffodils, the stars- as if all these things would never cease. Wordsworth would have stood there, near that very Rothay, looking into it like us. But no, it wasn’t even that. The Rothay would have reflected the same eternity to him as it did to us; the daffodils would have smiled, like everyday; the stars would have talked like that, in the calmest manner possible, saying, ‘There you go, now you’ve seen God.’
Location: Grasmere, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22, UK