Threshfield Quarry

I paid a number of visits to the old quarry at Threshfield last week. It was in use until quite recently, so although there are some information boards and old rail tacks, it all feels very contemporary. Bushes and shrubs have not yet grown from every rock face, and gravel and chips cover the ground. There is a haunting quality about the place; those tall cliffs magnify the crows’ calls and blackbirds' song. Although some may consider it a manmade scar on the Yorkshire Dales’ face, I find it rather beautiful. It is a shrine to man’s harnessing of the natural world, yet scarcely minimising nature’s splendour. If I were privileged enough to live a year at Netherside Hall, it is a place to which I would daily repair.

Yet amidst the beauty lurks grave danger. Whichever body now administers the site has erected rather stark warning signs, so careless folk do not drown in the pools, nor slip off the rockfaces which their reckless ambition determined to climb. It seems incongruous that a beauty spot should be a place of death and pain. Yet how many young men jump off Devil’s Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale, only to enter eternity? How many walkers are airlifted to hospital from the Lakeland fells? How many road collisions occur on our twisty, rural A-roads? Eden was a hundred-fold more magnificent than any natural charm our current world may boast, yet therein lurked a crafty serpent. In Proverbs 7, Solomon espies from his palace window the fall of a young man:


For at the window of my house

I looked through my lattice,

And saw among the simple,

I perceived among the youths,

A young man devoid of understanding,

Passing along the street near her corner;

And he took the path to her house

In the twilight, in the evening,

In the black and dark night.

And there a woman met him,

With the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart.


A few verses later, he sadly concludes:


With her enticing speech she caused him to yield,

With her flattering lips she seduced him.

Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter,

Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks,

Till an arrow struck his liver.

As a bird hastens to the snare,

He did not know it would cost his life. (NKJV)

By her beauty, he fell; by her flattering lips, he was deceived. I sometimes wonder that those people with apparently perfect lives are the most spiritually ignorant, and are in terrible danger. Today, I walked passed a home with a Range Rover, a Porsche and a BMW neatly parked outside, each with its personalised plate. I can only imagine that these folk have generous pension packages to look forward to, the comfiest furniture upon which to admire the best views, their children enjoying places at the finest schools. Rich, beautiful people do not think they need the Father’s grace, Christ’s blood, or the Spirit’s indwelling. They are the youth embracing the harlot, the fool playing in the quarry. The beauty of their situation merely masks and conceals the ugliness and poverty of their hearts.

As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Matthew 9:9