One Fine Morning


Early this morning, I lay back in the bath for a few moments, to let the warm water ease my aching limbs. Looking through the bathroom window, beyond the taps and the toothbrushes, I could see May sunshine and blue sky, with a few wisps of white cloud: one fine morning. Time slips away.

We were staying by the side of Lake Windermere. It might have been Fallbarrow Hall - I forget - but I know that the lawn sloped down to the lake itself. The night before, someone had suggested a swim before breakfast. Now we were walking down to the water with towels round our shoulders. There was a light, cool breeze, but the early sunshine was promising a warm day.

It was an odd assortment of young people, that church youth group. I remember names, faces, even today: David and Jack and Chris, Shirley and Sandra and Jane, mostly white and working class, like me. They were open and friendly and could carry on a conversation without swearing or stupidity. I’d only been a Christian for a very short time, but I felt happy and at home with them.

A few ran into the water, splashing, then shouting at the sudden cold. The rest of us waded in, over sand and pebbles, feeling the chilly water rising slowly; most stopped when the water reached waist height. This was the English Lake District, after all. I swam for a while, listening to the chattering, the shouting and the splashing, seeing the sun glancing off the waves; torn green leaves and blossom bobbed about on the water; farther from the shore there were ripples and bubbles, agitated fishes keeping their distance.

I swam back, and stood in the shallows, arms folded against the cold. It was quiet. Voices had died down, figures had grown still; two of the boys had their eyes on Shirley - well, we were young - but the others were looking out over the lake, or glancing up at the sun shimmering through the branches of the overhanging trees, their attention caught and held by something beyond themselves. I put it down then, as I do today, to the felt presence of God, a sense of His coming close.

The walk back to the Hall was chilly, but cheerful - and yet subdued, almost silent.

Time comes back. I got dried and dressed and went on with the day. It was indeed a fine morning, but with rain later.

“Yes, given the surroundings, the company you were keeping, being under the influence of evangelical enthusiasts, I can see how you might feel that way. Emotional experiences of this kind would confirm you in your new-found faith. It would give you a foundation to build on, a basis for your beliefs. I can understand that!”

You don’t understand at all. Look at line three of Edward Mote’s excellent hymn. You might need to consult a dictionary, since the language is a little archaic. And then, the whole of the hymn will repay a close and careful reading.


My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less.

Edward Mote, 1797-1874.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

And there you have it.

Even so, I’m grateful for that one fine morning; and for all the others, too.