Walking reveals stories, uncovers connections.
As I walked today on Day 16 of our pilgrimage to Jerusalem the French landscape revealed its stories. We walked today from Bapaume to Peronne, walking from village to village on country roads past fields and forests was like connecting the dots.
These photographs I took along the way are a visual diary of moments or dots that were connected through walking.
Stories of many men who had sacrificed their lives and who’s names will never be forgotten.
Stories of bravery.
Asking for directions at the edge of a forest. Being guided through a forest by a hunter and being told stories about the forest.
How the forest was obliterated 100 years ago as the Germans held this high point and then were ousted by the French and British and how shells are still found to this day.
How 100 years on and the forest grew concealing its scars. 100 years on this private forest is a hunting ground and a working forest producing lumber as well as plantations of willow.
Wherever you look their are reminders. Whether memorials to the dead, stories from the living, even trees that reveal scars of the past. Great trees who were splintered skeletons that grew new limbs, regernated. Giving hope.
Walking the landscape reaching a church in the small village of Bouchavesnes Bergen and discovering a memorial to the fallen of this forest of Bois St Pierre Waast that we had walked through.
Walking the landscape, the forms reveal its stories and leaves new ones that keep me wondering – a plush dog toy in a barbed wire fence, a steel cross on the edge of the field.
I think about the people who live on this land, the horror that their ancestors faced and the stories they live with.
The landscape weaves and reveals its many stories with every step.
This land is steeped in history, suffering, regeneration. I started the morning in a somber mood and the more I walked the more stories opened up as did my heart to the incredible regenerative power and capacity for hope.