– – Today I’m taking part in ‘What I Live For’, an online event organised by author Satya Robyn. People like me all over the world will be sharing what gives their lives meaning. In Satya Robyn’s novel ‘Thaw’, Ruth gives herself three months to decide whether she can find a reason to carry on living. There’s 75% off the kindle version today (99p / $1.49) – read more here:http://www.satyarobyn.com/?page_id=56 – –
Do invite your friends along – Satya has a Facebook invite here (where you can also share your piece) or forward them the link to this blog: http://www.satyarobyn.com/?p=154. I’m looking forward to reading them all!
I could have written about my precious loved ones, my family, but I chose to keep them and their secrets to myself. Instead I have written about my favourite place on earth, a spot I regularly return to just to remind myself what it is I live for, why I continue to believe. The photograph at the top of my blog was taken in Glendalough some months ago.
There is one sacred place which alone I call the ‘landscape of my soul’, Glendalough – ‘An Gleann Dhá Locha’ [Irish] – the valley of the two lakes. The earth here holds in safe keeping the memory of its distant past in the steep slopes, deep lakes, and dead trees dotting the scrub hill side. A kind of purified expansiveness seems to swirl in the air I breathe in this valley, as if the Spirit still moves through, drifting between the heavenly and earthly realms, promising that I too can be at one with what is.
Returning here always feels like coming home, as if this is where I truly belong, as if I too once walked around and through this ancient monastic site, this place where monks lived and moved and had their being, where they prayed in the night and again at dawn, in the ‘big hours’ and the ‘little hours’ too, shivering in the ever present damp and cold which seeps up from the sodden earth below. They must have stood by the edge of the lake and stared out over the still darkness, reflecting the sky and clouds above, just as I do when I return there, sometimes, but not often enough. Their robes would have blown in the wind which always sweeps down from the gap between the mountains, the valley left behind when the glaciers moved through, sculpting the land aeons ago.
This numinous space, this sacred earth, is part of my blood, its airy molecules flowing through my veins. This land is my land, this land is free. I come here when I need to escape, when the desire to gain perspective arises within, that intuitive call from my soul which impels me to let go, to remember that there is more to life than this and this and this, to find again my way back home.
For ‘home’ is not constant, it shifts and moves in accordance with perceptions and moods, so that where one moment I am at ease, perhaps the next my equanimity has been ruffled and disturbed. Sometimes the home, the house I live in coincides with my inner sense of ‘home’, sometimes not. Sometimes I need to get away from home, to find my way back there.
Then the spare, stark trees, stripped of their bark by the biting east wind, standing like mummified centurions, watch over me and the graves of the monks long gone and the ancient ruins, former cells and chapels, stones still carrying traces of the voices chanting psalms long ago – not even the ravens caw can drown out the memory of what went before.
Perhaps they still remember what it is we live for; perhaps I do too.