north light

Month: July 2012

Seeing With Your Own Eyes

There is no substitute for seeing things with your own eyes.

I mean, you can read about things, from books, from the internet, from Wikipedia, you can hear the words seductively playing around in your head:

The rolling hills of the Burren are composed of limestone pavement with criss-crossing cracks known as ‘grikes’, leaving isolated rocks called ‘clints’. The region supports Mediterranean and Alpine plants side by side, due to the unusual environment.

But it is another thing to see these things with your own eyes. Continue reading

A Feast of Flowers

I was up walking near the Glenkiln reservoir yesterday (we were one of the few places in the UK that wasn’t deluged with rain over the weekend).

However many times I walk there, I forget how much I love this wide open moorland, this empty landscape that talks to me of home.

Yes, I know, Galloway is beautiful.

Of course the landscape isn’t empty at all, the hedgerows by the field sides, the moorland and boggy places are teeming with life, and at this time of year, heaving with the most gorgeous wildflowers. Continue reading

I’m driving to work on Tuesday morning, a ten mile drive along narrow country roads through lush, rolling Galloway countryside.

The sun is shining, softly.

The earth is still damp from rain, and the hills and the fields are green, so green with this heady mixture of sunshine and rain it is a green you would deem implausible were an artist to paint it.

It is a green that says green hills of Galloway, home.

The hedgerows are teeming.

High with yarrow, orange amber red with the redshank, splashes of white where the oxeye daisies wave and it is all I can do to keep driving past the hedgerows waving and dripping with colour. I long to stop and walk in them, take a photograph from the ground’s eye up, grasses waving, all the colours inter-woven, my favourite point of view.

I turn the last bend in the road and –

Oh but the mist is gently draped on the top of Lotus Hill and there is something about the shape of this hill, so smooth and rounded, so darkly green, so hinting of the highlands with the mist draped over it and the buildings of the farm dotted white at the bottom, and

There is nothing beyond this.

There is nothing to understand, no truths to be learned, no meaning to be swallowed.

There is nothing beyond this, the way the oxeye daisies wave from the hedgerows, the way the green exaggerates its colour and calls you home, the way the mist drapes on Lotus and breaks your heart, as you take that last bend in the road.

I do not have a camera. I cannot take a photograph. But I can write this moment, I will tell you this moment, I will write this moment, this brief ten minutes of knowing.

There is nothing beyond this.

Listen, I’m sorry, but you know – I don’t wish to believe. It’s too hard. I don’t want to live a different life, a spiritual life, a life of enchantment and dancing with you, I just want a normal life, work, family, reading, song. That kind of thing.

I’ve no energy left for believing, I said. Okay, said the universe, without protest.

Later that evening, driving home from choir, oh it’s a day that can only be described as heaven sent. Warm, sunny, with a fresh breeze, and everyone is moving with the scent of summer, with the scent of love, with the scent of freedom and the hills have been glowing green, and gorgeous, now dropping into blue, and purple, as the sun is setting down, and as I’m driving home I can tell, I can just tell that the sun is going to set on the hills behind home, and I whisper:

Please don’t do this to me. I don’t want it, I don’t need it, please don’t do this to me, I don’t *want* to believe. I know, said the universe.

And showed me anyway:

Sun dropping gold, a circle of molten fire, kissing, blessing, silver clouds burning at the edges, hills turning purple with the touch of the heavens, the day illuminated, the night made sacred by the final kiss of the sun.

Barefoot and Breathing in the Rain

I’ve been following the invitation to walk barefoot on the earth for the last 10 days or so. It’s been a fascinating experience, and one I wanted to share a little of. I’ve got two posts written: one, for next week, on what happens when you wander, barefoot, without a path to follow. (Yes, I am simply following my inner hippie.)

Here, I’m sharing the journal notes from the first four days of going outside in my bare feet, and breathing in. Breathing in air, earth, acceptance… and rain. Continue reading

Hedgerow Memories

Water Avens.

Greater Stitchwort.

Dog Violet.

Herb Robert.

Wood Sorrel.

Tufted Vetch.

Red Campion.

Lesser Celandine.

Somebody mentioned to me recently that it is not just the hedgerow flowers that are beautiful, not just their photographs that move us, but something about the names that speaks to us, that connects us with something inside.

Something evocative.

Something that reminds us, or calls to us, or grounds us.

It’s strange.

To me, like most of us (I guess), the names of these flowers are not familiar.

I need to learn, year after (painful) year, what a flower is, what name it goes by.

I have some hazy recollections of being taught a few flower names as a child.

One happy memory of walking on the moor with my granny in Skye, being shown the wildflowers, and told their Gaelic names, but of course I cannot remember the details now, just the moment, just the feeling of being taught something important.

It frustrates me, this lack of knowledge, this lack of such basic literacy, and yet still I am aware that at some level I do know, and I do remember.

Ever since I came to this neck of the woods I’ve had the feeling that this landscape and in particular these hedgerows were reminding me of something.

They’re lush, wild, and unspoilt.

They’re what I remember from something I never knew, but know from somewhere else.

I’m not sure if that’s from paintings, or books, or childhood stories, or the enchanted woods I disappeared into when I was little through the pages of Enid Blyton books.

Or if it is something deeper, and longer ago than that.

I read something by Helen Keller today that made me wonder about this further:

Each individual has a subconscious memory of the green earth and murmuring waters, and blindness and deafness cannot rob him of this gift from past generations. This inherited capacity is a sort of sixth sense – a soul sense, which sees, hears and feels, all in one.

I don’t know what the answer is.

But I do know this: that over and over, the hedgerows are reminding me.

This Moment, Here, Now

I was reminded of a beautiful word last week: to behold.

There is something so gentle about it, containing kindness and compassion, a way of gazing without scrutiny or judgement, truly seeing with the eyes of the heart.

The word reminded me of something I’ve noticed often in the natural world. That nature enjoys and responds to be being beheld: trees can bow gracefully, flowers dance and laugh when you stop and notice them, take photographs, pay compliments.

Perhaps the same is true of people, relationships, situations, moments, that things change not just for us but for others if we allow the gaze to be softened.

Although beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, the feeling of being beautiful exists soley in the mind of the beheld ~ Martha Beck

This reminder brought me back to the importance of practice, to the simple act of paying attention and noticing, to be willing to behold not the big and the grand but the small and simple.

To switch the focus from a future promised land, back to the present moment, the ground beneath your feet, where wonder and magic can be hiding, waiting, always.

here now

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