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Where Conies Dwell
Where Conies Dwell Stories & essays

Rev. Geoffrey Bingham

by Rev. Geoffrey Bingham

Subject: Short Stories, Essays

Book Code: 280

Pages: 292 pp, Book

Pub. Date: 1994

ISBN: 0 86408 171 5


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Where Conies Dwell


Alistair McLean’s book Where Eagles Dare speaks of lofty eyries and great exploits. Doubtless the film of these exploits moved its viewers quite deeply. Against such magnificent heroes a bunch of conies seem trivial, pitifully insignificant, wholly inadequate. The cony is rabbit-like and in fact related to that species. It is quite small with ears rounded rather than elongated as are those of a rabbit. Curiously enough these little creatures harvest greenery and make hay from it, hiding it under the rocks where it dries out for fodder for winter. These ‘rock rabbits’ are clever, and quickly spot the enemy, and unlike the related rabbits, they are vocal and utter a bleat-like sound when the enemy comes near them. On the whole they are unimpressive, but they survive.

Readers of this new book of ours—Where Conies Dwell—will quickly pick up the contrast between ‘the feeble people’ and the strong macho heroes of McLean’s book. In North America and Eurasia the little creatures will be seen alert but eating, yet at a sound they will scuttle back into the rocks where they make their homes. They are not equipped for fighting or defending themselves, but they have survived thousands of generations. They make their homes in the rocks and are the most difficult of creatures to capture. They have learned the principle ‘When I am weak, then am I strong’, and so they win life not by manoeuvres, manipulation or politicking, but by ‘an appeal to every man’s conscience in the sight of God’. None can grasp the cony of this kind for the feeble ones use love and mercy and grace to bring about good ends, and not by what is now known as ‘power-play’.

When thinking of a title there were other stories in this collection whose titles seemed more commanding such as ‘Beezers, Nortons and Tiger Cubs’ and ‘The Boy, the Bush and the Bells’ and even ‘Sindhis Singing in the Night’, but if you scan the poems, essays and stories you will see they seem to have something in common—the power of God, and the weakness of human beings. ‘The Old Lag’ represents a weak kind of person, ‘The Bland Man’ the laid-back person of our day, thought by some to be ‘laid-out’! The constant references to God’s forgiveness, and his love, as also our interpersonal acts of love, seem to speak of a contemptible weakness. Seasoned folk put on a better face to the world, whilst the cynics sneer at any suggestion of softness.

Books such as Where Conies Dwell are never-the­less closer to the reality of life than Where Eagles Dare for all of us know the great adventurers are a tribe of their own. Most of us make out in life, and often without great demonstrations of success. As has been said, ‘It is the last chapter that counts’. Some of us end life in a mumble rather than a whimper. Few go off with a great bang.

The selection of poems, short stories and essays in this series of Christian ‘Smorgasbord’ books is intended to entertain. Who does not like entertainment? Seeing our own weaknesses, foibles and idiosyncrasies is highly entertaining, especially if we do not take ourselves too seriously. Yet the richest form of entertainment is accepting what is around us, even if we do not condone what is wrong, or compromise our principles in the face of it. Laughter is a good solvent for an over-serious or morbid spirit. So we can see genuine fun in our own weaknesses, and we can love the antics of our fellow-creatures. Life is rich, and the creation about us en­tertains on the highest level.

Yet, given all that, we need to see the two things which I ever keep in mind—the fallenness of Man and the tragedy of his depravity, and then the fact that man is made in the image of God and cannot escape what he would deny. This is why we are curi­ous creatures. We may be moralistic but we lack moral power, and we cannot accomplish great pro­jects of the spirit without being strengthened by divine power. Those of us who have artistic gifts—and especially those of us who have developed them keenly—are always in danger of human pride, and that sort of pride is most distasteful and leads to destructive egotism. We think we accomplish much, but there can be a withering of the true ego in the success of accomplishment that it may obtain.

I hope that in this book—as in former similar productions—there will be something for every reader, be it in the poetry, the essays and/or the stories. I notice that I have developed much of my writing along lines which are either of fantasy or making the impossible to appear real. Perhaps there is some whimsy in this. I notice also a nostalgia for former years. Older folk find great treasures in their memories, and know that much writing capital is available in them. In addition, I find much of my writing is autobiographical, even though some of it may be put into the third person. I am sure I repeat myself with certain events and happenings, but then one keeps seeing these from new angles, and so the readers of my other books must be patient with me.

Finally, I must admit to being a cony in many ways. More and more I slip away into God as my dwelling place, my hillside of rocks and stones, the place where I can hide, but the environment is so powerful that it charges me with new and stronger impulses to write, and so share the treasures I have been aided to accumulate. As the mysterious cony cuts its own hay and hides it near or under rocks, so I gather sustenance for these final days of rich activity.

Perhaps this book will encourage you to know that when you grow old you will be far from barren. You may heap up little that secures you economically but your spirit will be rich with the ‘treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ that are contained in our blessed Lord. I try to share mine without demanding ought in return, and it will go well with you if you take this principle for true living.

Geoffrey Bingham