Runwell I Passing graves - carefully tended, loaded with memories - and shrubbery - sculpted and shaped - on the path leading to this medieval church. Approach the rickety wooden porch with flecks of paint remaining from its earlier medieval-lite decoration. Open the heavy wooden door inwards to reveal, among the gloom, a brightly painted, though faded, interior - screen and murals - mimicking medieval origins. Let the silence seep into your soul, as the cold into your bones. Explore and tour the minor marvels of this hidden place, packed within the smallness of its tardis-like space. Tales of heritage and folklore layered in stone and art, worship and time, artefact and ritual. Travel in time and through tales in a place and space where God is our beginning and our end is God, where the inside can be spied from the outside, and the outside in, where the devil may have left his mark on the exit door, where the local Bobby regularly waited on all Hallows Eve to prevent disruption, where a last prioress, from the nunnery by the well, was reputedly laid to rest in a tomb that is now empty; yet which retains a unique carved cross - the Runwell cross - four circles in a square; the instrument of our redemption set within a sign of the perfection of God. God is our beginning And our end is God. Spring of living water welling up, run well through life and time, run well in this place and space, its layers and its mystery, its tales and its history. II Time, there has been time, aeons of time. Time to run well through life, time to tell tales and accrue tales, time for pilgrims, nuns and congregants to gather and disperse, time for marks, murals, memorials marking the passage of time, time for interments and burials, and for exhumations, time to begin and end projects - orphanages and schools, time to build and sell vicarages and rectories, time to decorate and time to strip back, time to carve altars, crosses and stations, time for the devil to make his mark, time for prayers to seep into the walls, windows and stones, time to sit still in silence and know God is our beginning and our end is God III Water rises from the ground, a never-failing spring, well water, life-giving, wellbeing, running water, running well through life and time and ages. Settlers build homes and a church, a village rises nearby. Pilgrims pass by, praying with nuns, as they receive and bless. Farmers work the land fruitfully using the well's water. Boxing Day walkers, led by Mr De’ath, visit for relaxation, exercise and inspiration. See them come as one, see them come layered in time, see them come to the same source, the same well, the same water, each receiving differing meaning, still each receiving well. Run well in Runwell continuing source of wellbeing, running still, still running, ever flowing, beginning in God, ending in God, flowing continually through time and eternity. Run well, water of life, run well.
Jonathan Evens is Team Rector for Wickford and Runwell. Previously Associate Vicar for HeartEdge at St Martin-in-the-Fields, he was involved in developing HeartEdge as an international and ecumenical network of churches engaging congregations with culture, compassion and commerce. He is co-author of The Secret Chord, an impassioned study of the role of music in cultural life written through the prism of Christian belief, and writes regularly on the visual arts for national arts and church media including Artlyst, ArtWay and Church Times. He blogs at joninbetween.blogspot.com.