bridge in nature

Boughs, bumps and bridges

Three poems exploring the human need to make connections – with nature and with others – and the challenges involved in doing so. By Richard Bauckham, Audrey Priscilla White and Joseph Evans.

Woodland Sight

Richard Bauckham discovers something of the poetry contained in nature itself.

Today the world feels kind

and consolation comes

like song and sun

filtering through the shade

of this untroubled glade.

Among these undulating boughs

that swoop like birds of prey

across my way, I find my sight

rhymes with the naturalness of woods

and lakes where plants that float

in flat curvaceous shapes

uplift their blossoms, white

as mountain peaks

that brighten into sight.

Speed bumps

Life’s difficulties are like ‘speed bumps’, ‘peaks to climb and conquer’, as Audrey Priscilla White considers. And by doing so, we can reach out to others.

Some days flow and other days don’t.

Some days unroll

Like a ball of string.

They turn

Like pages of a good book.

Other days feel stiff,

Jagged as a saw.

Closing you inside,

Like a room crowded with people

Competing for oxygen.

But every road has its bumps,

Those little peaks to climb;

Bumps slow down

Our accelerated lives,

Focussing the mind,

Decelerating time.

Bumps are questions

And chances to reflect,

Reminding us of others,

Sparing regret.

No single star brightens the night sky

But our song in harmony

Can make all the stars shine

In a symphony of sound and light.

Some days flow and other days don’t.

Every road has its bumps:

Those little peaks

To climb and conquer.


The sight of numerous bridges in his hometown of Manchester leads Joseph Evans to reflect on the divisions we create but also the human need to connect with others.

(To John, who at least encouraged me.)

We must connect, overcome the distance,

Gaps like bleeding scars screaming from the ground,

Bridges to heal these holes, this resistance,

Like so many bandages on a wound.

Why so many obstacles in the way

For barque and car and train and load to cross?

What do all these barriers have to say,

Just what went wrong, what broke, what have we lost?

Our forebears built them in iron and brick,

Practical, sturdy, for progress and gain;

I stand on a footbridge, steel, curved and slick, 

Which even shines in the Manchester rain.

This basin once busy with bales and coal

Is now trendy – so chic! – and full of bars;

Leisure not work now nourishes the soul:

The effort was theirs, the fruition ours.

‘Twas then through work God meekly blessed their greed;

Now we bless ourselves, all live like the rich,

No longer want to recognise our need,

No longer dig, pour water in the ditch.

For now we stand alone, and don’t see why

We should take the trouble to pass over.

We can cross the world on our screens, or fly

To distant lands: why, then, should we bother

To slog beside the local man, brother

Of ours in his misery and his sweat?

Not for wealth, work is to stand together,

To pay to each other our mutual debt.

But travel still we ought and aim to pass

From one side to the other, though bridges rust

Or fall, for nothing here below can last.

We came from and are made to kick up dust.

John the former punk rocker sits to view

The scene, while an American tourist

Takes photographs. “What does this mean to you?”

I ask. Both say little, I don’t insist

(I wanted them to cross the bridge with me

– ­A handshake is a bridge or just ‘good day’ –

I wanted them to see what I could see

­–You can’t make people think in your own way).

That blood-pouring heaven-dropped ladder-stream

Is a bridge, always building, never done,

Calling us now to climb into its dream:

The ultimate connection, Three in One.

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Professor Richard Bauckham is one of today's leading biblical scholars. He has taught at Manchester University and the University of St Andrews, is a fellow of the British Academy and is now Senior Scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. His many works include the highly acclaimed Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. When he can find the time he writes poetry and has also written two children’s story books about the MacBears of Bearloch. You can go to his website on Audrey Priscilla White is a young poet and writer who shares a deep connection to Mother Nature. In her spare time she writes poetry, hikes through mountains and forests and does yoga. She loves exploring innovative and regenerative solutions to the climate crisis, one of which is helping others build a love for Nature. Her belief is that if if you love something, you will not only fight to protect it and take care of it but also you will want to spend time with it and learn about it. Fr Joseph Evans is a Catholic priest and member of the Opus Dei prelature. He has been a journalist and youth worker, and is currently a university chaplain in Oxford. He is co-founder and Editorial Director of Adamah, which he sees as bringing together some of his great passions: good writing, intelligent and honest discussion, and helping young people achieve their full potential.

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