Sunday, May 25, 2014

The magnificent beauty of a grey day on a lonely mountaintop...and undiscovered treasures.

Layers of grey, a window of clarity, a mountaintop in shadow.
The view from the summit of the nearest Munro, Mayar, looked "dreich" - dreary, wet, and grey. And in some ways, it was. But the eye of the beholder can transform the greyest and darkest of landscapes into something of great beauty...if it chooses to do so.

A couple of hours earlier, at the Ranger Base in Glen Doll, the sun was shining and the early morning temperature rising. Climbing higher and higher, however, the great and warming orb in the May sky became obscured by a thick overcast. A growing chill in the air hastened the search for another layer of clothing, gloves and a toque. The glacial debris throughout the Corrie Fee, a dramatic and massive bowl carved by ice, spoke of an ancient ice age. There would have been forces at work beyond human comprehension. Rock was carved, crushed, and carried. Mountains were shaped, valleys sculptured.

Standing by the remnants of this past winter's snowfall, it caused one to pause...and wonder.

A deep cavern in the snow gently whispered, "Fragile, take good care."
The skies continued to lower and glower...but it was not a sullenness. It was an intimacy. And it was dynamic and marvellous.

The clouds descended silently.
By the crumbling summit cairn, not the majestic creation of assembled rocks as are some, there was a desolation and an aloneness. Strangely, it was comforting. Sometimes being alone is to truly feel the presence of another. In a strange way, that makes sense.

A "thin" place, in Celtic spirituality.
It was a place so remote from the clamouring for influence and recognition, the political motivations, the willingness to sacrifice principles for power - the usual stuff of newspaper and tabloid headlines, and life in even some of the most altruistic of organisations. I tire of hearing of these things.

All landscapes, whether forested or barren, textured or featureless, can have a great and natural the eye of the beholder. Formed through unimaginable time, they continue to evolve in shape and form. It is difficult not to find an elegance in such time-honoured processes.

And when the sun began to ease its way through the mists, the quiet and unassuming beauty remained, albeit changed.

The mountains shall bring peace to the people. Psalm 72:3
They do.
Being outside, alone, and in a remote place can bring the necessary humility to the human spirit that helps the beholder's "eye" find beauty in surprising places. In that "space", we become more attuned to the need to attend to the needs of the most vulnerable around us, those who call out, often without voices. We are enabled to see a loveliness and a calmness in greyness...and deep meaning in the simple and quiet acts of caring for one another.

If only all who aspire to leadership and power, in this world, would make this small discovery. There would be gifts beyond imagining, gently shared in so many ways.

We are pilgrims on the journey.
We are sisters / brothers on the road.
We are here to help each other,
walk the mile and bear the load.*

It was a very pleasant hill walk and a meaningful time of contemplation...warm and colourful "treasures" were revealed in the chilly and grey overcast. 

Such is the case in these "thin" places.

*From the "Servant Song, by Richard Gillard.


  1. Always reading and always enjoying Duncan. As for the news I think simon and Garfunkel said it best...I get the news I need on the weather report.

  2. Thank you, Lee, I appreciate that very much. Warm wishes to you and yours from the other side of the Atlantic...and a few miles of Scottish hills. :) Duncan.