Sins End

Like every other tourist in human history, I see a place at which I holiday and wish I lived there. Sandsend is my latest vacation-envy, a small village to the north of Whitby. Everything was clean and tidy, like a picture from a chocolate box. A neat little church, a babbling brook through the settlement’s middle, beautiful woodland to the rear, the sea to its front. What more could be asked for? It all seemed to be a part of the Mulgrave Estate, property of the Marquess of Normanby. No mere barons or earls here, I noted. I daresay the rents would not be cheap, but to take one of the cottages on the noble lord’s land would certainly have its benefits. Indeed, I remarked to my companion that this picture-perfect village is surely a taste of heaven, a little snapshot of the New Earth.

Unfortunately, this coastal arcadia proved it was not immune to human sin or carelessness. The pretty stone bridge over which the A174 passes was damaged, its masonry cast into the stream, and wrecked car parts and broken plastic bumpers left on the verge. The corner was tight, and some reckless fool or distracted motorist misjudged the corner and went over the bridge. I hope the injuries were slight, but my assessment of the site suggested otherwise.

It seemed ironic that such a beautiful place should have been invaded by such damage, loss and injury. Wherever we humans settle and dwell, sin, pollution and decay soon follow on their heels. ‘Et in arcadia, ego’, boasts the grave in Poussin's Les bergers d'Arcadie. Even in paradise, the snake awaited his chance. Even in the redeemed heart, the old nature espies its opportunity. That place to which you long to retire, that house you dream of buying, that warm beach to which you long to return, will all be blighted by sin, for our fallen world is soaked and contaminated by it. That is why we Christians long to go and be with Christ, for where He is, no corruption, decay or ill-driven motor vehicles may come.

...having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Phil. 1:23