At the beginning of the year we were excited to receive an email from Tom Wareham, author of a new biography about the life ofJohn Campbell Murray, a local Horam head master, photographer devoted naturalist and writer. His most well know book, Copsford, about a year he spent in a derelict cottage on the Hooks Farm estate as a young man is a kind of Sussex version of Henry David Thoreau’s classic Walden and enjoys something of a cult following.
In his book, titled The Green Man of Horam, Wareham presents an outline of Walter Murray’s life and work and argues that a close reading of his books provides strong and hitherto unrecognised evidence of his mystical relationship with nature, citing passages like the one below, in which Murray exquisitely describes experiences of transcendence in nature which resonate strongly with the core of so much of the deep nature connection work we’re exploring and developing at Sacred Earth.
At Copsford there were seasons when time almost stood still, and I too learnt to be still. At first I was restless, miserable, a gnawing discontent tried to eat my heart out, and if I had not been blessed with an inborn love of the countryside it would have succeeded. But I slowly learned to stand and stare. The leaven was working. I not only stood and not only stared, but I began to see. I saw lovely things and rare things…saw the play of light across meadow and wood, saw a shaft of sunlight fill a spring-green copse till it glowed as though the glory of the Light of the World dwelled within. I caught an occasional glimpse of the intricate and complex pattern of life, and once or twice, as fleeting as the rainbow-flash from a trembling dewdrop, I perceived that all these things were but the external signs of a kingdom such as I had never dreamed of; that these colours were as a drop-curtain which, while it might never rise to disclose the stage within, grew transparent before my wondering eyes.
We’re positive that Walter Murray, who died in 1985, would be delighted that a community organisation has been established in Horam which is following in his footsteps. We’d like to thank Tom Wareham for sending us a copy of his book which, we enjoyed immensely. It provides such a great sense of place and history and helps to situate the work we’re doing at Sacred Earth within a long tradition of local land stewardship which goes back centuries and beyond.
For more of a flavour of Tom Wareham and Walter Murray’s writing, check out his guest blog post on the Richard Jeffries website. His book, The Green Man of Horam, is available to purchase from Amazon.