Dear Friends,

During the autumn of 2016, air passengers landing at City of Derry Airport near my hometown began to notice something strange. On the green hills of Donegal to the west, they could see the shape of a huge Celtic Cross emerging from a forest. How did it get there? Had it been planned, or was it the result of Divine intervention?

Well, the shape – measuring over 300 x 200ft – had been meticulously planned and planted so that it would eventually become visible from the air, greeting visitors arriving to this beautiful part of the world.

Local forester Liam Emery had designed and created this phenomenon by carefully planting larch trees over a two-acre site across the evergreen spruce forest. Every autumn, the larch turns yellow revealing the perfect Celtic Cross shape and delighting those lucky enough to catch an aerial view.

Tragically, Liam died in a kayaking accident and never saw his plantation come to fruition. It is hard to imagine the painstaking planning and labour that went in to creating this beautiful piece of natural art which continues to speak to so many long after the creator’s death.

For Christians, the cross is the sign of everything God has done for us through his son Jesus. It reminds us of an event—the Crucifixion—but also of the person who was crucified and overcame the power of death. For that reason, the cross is a sign of faith and hope.

There are lots of signs of hope in our communities. Many, like that Celtic Cross in the forest, are the fruits of what was planted by those who have gone before us. Let’s take a moment this month to be thankful for their efforts, and to thank God for the Cross and the hope that it gives us for the future.

Yours in Christ,

Rev’d Dr Ian Mills