Day: October 18, 2011

The Consolation of Patterns and Shapes

Wave patterns on the black sand shore:

Wave Patterns IV

deep consolation, and a sense of home.

Wave Patterns III

Images, patterns and shapes found at the black sand shores of Talisker.

The words are inspired by a passage found in Anam Cara by John O’Donohue, a book I was reading on Skye. (I love the way reading and landscapes merge together like this at times when we’re travelling.)

The human eye adores gazing; it feasts on the wild beauty of new landscapes, the dignity of trees. The eye is always drawn to the shape of a thing. It finds some deep consolation and sense of home in special shapes.

This makes me see photography in a whole different light, understanding the pleasure that comes from that gazing.

It allows me to make better sense of that feeling of connectedness and home that is found in certain places.

Lost in the Mist

We need a light which has retained its kinship with the darkness.

~ John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

Out of three days in Skye we had one day of gorgeous autumn sunshine, where the only conclusion you could reach was that this was the most beautiful, glorious place on earth; one of torrential rain, where you could pretty much only conclude the opposite; and one of low mist, where it was only by ducking down to the shore, down from the moorlands and hilltops that you could see what was there to be seen.

(A weather pattern that is pretty much par for the course on the island, but that’s a whole other story.)

Seeing a place like Talisker in the mist was a new experience for me – previously I’d headed for the beach on warm and sunny days, to take advantage of the flat black rocks and the chance for a dip in the sea (yes, it is possible, some days!) but this time I was set on standing by the sea and reading some out loud poetry.

And the mist, of course, revealed the spirit of the place in a totally different light.

The light in Celtic consciousness is a penumbral light.

~ John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

The misty day wove together with the words I’d been reading about this dark/light feature of the Celtic consciousness, and the value of obliqueness (in our gaze, in our writing, in our kindness, in our friendship) that Donohue captures so beautifully in the book.

It took me to this journal entry that I thought I’d share with you here.


how would it be to allow for knowing
and not knowing:
allowing room
for the mystery
of creating
to be able to wonder
without needing to understand everything
to trust in the process
to trust in love
to trust in the mystery and wonder
of the universe
that beats softly wildly
all round about us,
that is hidden
in the mists
in the clouds and the rain
in the wind blowing and the rain lashing down on your window,
reminding you
that this is where you are,
on the island,
at the edge,
in a place of finding
and refinding,
and remembering
to remember
the feel of the mist, wind and rain.


Something I guess we’re always needing reminders to remember.

This is another post in the Skye series. Last post tomorrow.

PS In case you, like me, need to check the definition of penumbral, here it is:

  1. A partial shadow, as in an eclipse, between regions of complete shadow and complete illumination.
  2. The grayish outer part of a sunspot.
  3. An area in which something exists to a lesser or uncertain degree

Streams of Connectedness

Some places are not everyday.

They are places of voyaging and adventure, of pilgrimage and retreat.

They are not (generally) available to us in an everyday kind of way – and nor perhaps should they be.

Practice is though.

There are practices that we can repeat in an everyday kind of way: here, there and everywhere.
The practices of:

  • Stepping outside, walking and wondering.
  • Keeping your eyes open, for possibility, and invitation.
  • Taking photographs to better learn from what you see.
  • Listening out for fragments of poems.
  • Letting the words tumble and fall till you find the phrase or the form for the essence of a moment, the magic of a minute drifting by.

It’s those practices that connect us:

To those places, to those moments, to each other, to ourselves.

It’s those practices that connect us back:

To the landscapes of the imagination.

The act of looking at what we love, remembering what we love, connects us delicately to the underground streams we are seeking to reach ~ Julia Cameron, The Sound of Paper

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