Anwick Church: Eternal Graffiti

St Mary’s Church in Anwick, Lincs, was locked up when I called yesterday. Fortunately, the church porch contained more historical treasure than many buildings’ interiors. Graffiti artists for the last 500 years have been attracted to its spacious, soft walls. This artform, though often now the preserve of the witless and illiterate, helps capture the thoughts of people long gone, storing them for centuries after the brains that conceived them became mush and then dust. Here we have a snapshot of various people, mainly anonymous, etching their thoughts and preoccupations onto a wall that would long outlast them.

This one, which may be late medieval, seems to be a design for a decorated church window with curved tracery.

'EP' recorded his initials in the year that the greatest Bible in the English language was published- the Authorised Version. Did he read it, or remain ignorant?

RW lived at the year of French Revolution. Is that a guillotine he drew, suggesting its usefulness this side of the Channel, or is it a cross, in many respects Madam Guillotine’s very opposite?

This looks like a fifteenth-century ship. Was this artist longing for the sea, or anticipating a merchant’s delivery that would make or break him?

This one signed his initials twice- was he afraid posterity would erase his memory, or was the second by a friend or relative with whom he shared initials? The letters are slightly different in their execution. 

IW carved this during the civil wars. Did he survive the conflict, or was he a casuality of that national tragedy?

EP made his mark during the years of renewed persecution of dissenting Christians. Was he a persecutor, or the persecuted? Was he neither, being careless of others' suffering and their stand for truth?

This fifteenth-century writing I cannot decipher, but its author thought it worth recording. 

Is this a bow and arrow depiction, or do I impose meaning where none exists? Its author might be a survivor of Agincourt- or a thoughtless youth with time, not French knights, to kill.

We think things and soon forget them, but what if, like Anwick’s wall, our thoughts, words and deeds are all etched onto the eternal mind of God? After all, He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He is the searcher of hearts. Being perfectly just and righteous, He must hold us accountable for the evil we produce, and commend the goodness, such as it is, that we perform. Thankfully, on the space of wall onto which I have been engraving my dark heart’s musings, though it be covered in blasphemies and rebellions, Christ has whitewashed it with His perfect goodness. His purity is reckoned as mine, and my filthy scribblings recorded as His. The God of heaven sees, and reads, remembers and responds. 

For the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. 1 Chronicles 28:9b