“Look up and raise your heads because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21)
“I chanced to look up. Coasting leisurely but powerfully overhead, a sunlit eagle- I was transfixed. In little over a few seconds it had effortlessly covered the ground it had taken me an hour and was then off across the loch in the direction of Morvern, its massive shape a distillation of the spirit of the mountains and a reminder of our own insignificance.”
These words were sent to me recently by a lifelong climbing friend whose feet are planted firmly on the ground, whose hands grip tightly to the rock-face and whose eyes miss little of the world he resides in. Yet the day he was climbing Beinn Bheithir something happened. Looking up and beyond the realms and bonds of this world he experienced something. Something of the numinous. The relationship between eagle, sky and mountain shifted from things seen to evidence of things known but hitherto unseen.
For one brief moment there was no mountain, there was no eagle. Just the light and a sense of being; all things bathed in shimmering light, all things connected and shared. For one brief moment a realisation that we are connected to things beyond our sight, beyond our experience and beyond our knowledge.
I am sure we have all experienced a moment of transcendence, a moment of connectedness. We can lean forward, drawn closer, in all that we do. Seeing an eagle on a mountain top, watching a fish jump in a river, catching one’s breath as a kingfisher darts by. Catching the eye of the person next to us in the queue, a smile, seeking to capture in a bottle the essence of the magic of our childhood as we listen to out favourite carols.
So on these busy and dark December nights what does one do? I stand outside, waiting for the doors to fling open, waiting to be embraced in the splendour of God’s love. And in the meantime I learn to love those who offer me their own light. And I try to reach out to God.
Following Hurricane Irene I received a video clip of a simple chant, sung unaccompanied by its author who was in New York just before the storm. I have never met this musician but she sang simply and the words are charming.
Blessings on the blossoms,
Blessings on the roots,
Blessings on the leaf and stem,
Blessings on the fruits.
I find myself humming this chant at the most unlikely of times and I am astonished how quickly my curmudgeonly thoughts recede whenever I do.
But all too often I get caught up in the mire and in the distraction of my own thoughts. Advent is the time to refocus, to reconnect to that which lies beyond our wordly experiences.
“My eyes are turned to you, Lord God, in you I take refuge“