Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Filled and refreshed by the "emptiness" of an unbroken horizon...

Paddle strokes into the "empty" horizon.
Paddling a sea kayak, along the red sandstone Angus shores of the North Sea, is a liberating and invigorating experience. The marine life, and the dramatic geological formations of arches, caves, sea stacks and cliffs delight and stimulate the senses.

Out to sea, the empty horizon, provides a similar feast of gentle stimuli that fills and refreshes. If only for just a little while, land is left behind, and the imagination anticipates the possibility of an epic adventure.

The "empty" horizon promises a sea-going version of pilot John Gillespie Magee's slipping "the surly bonds of earth". The sea kayak's forward momentum shares many of the "flight" dynamics of an aircraft - the pitch, the yaw, and the roll. The angles of rotation in three dimensions soothe, and focus attention. There is a gentle transformation...and then almost are fully immersed in the "moment". The distractions and the agendas, the "to do" lists and the pressures, all fade away. This is time well spent. The sacred balance, for which the human body, mind and spirit yearns, establishes itself.

The featureless ocean horizon, especially under an overcast sky, imparts a sense of "invitation" into the unknown. It satiates the dreamy thirst for adventure that resides within. All this, of course, is sharpened by a tiny pinch of delicious and healthy disquiet. After all, the unknown is the unknown.

It is always a life-giving exercise to yearn to make new discoveries - about self and about the world. And this becomes possible, in the "moment". This is when time becomes a rich and deep well of treasures. How often we miss it with our need to accomplish and with the strange refuge we take in "busyness". The distracted life, filled with overwhelming agendas, so easily becomes the life of "quiet desperation" that draws energy and invites vulnerability. I see this so often in many who share my vocation. Their most important relationships and their courageous dreams of making a difference become part of the collateral damage, having neglected and ignored sufficient "moments" of respite and renewal.

The empty horizon is far from featureless, rather, it is full to brimming with the varied "topography" of promised adventure. As is the case with so much in life, our view is determined by our perspective. Frequent time in such natural surroundings, is time away from the "fray". It restores and revitalises and strengthens us to do good works and safeguard our most valued relationships. It gives us fresh and new perspectives and sufficient energy to do what we feel called to do in life.

May such distant and "empty" horizons, and such "moments" beckon...with their promise to fill and refresh. They will! :)


  1. Hi Duncan, I need to to be told this so often it seems. I have a very full calendar and sometimes think that this is what gives my life value! How silly is that? I am going to try to cancel something and head for my favourite trail head! :>) Thanks, Gen.

  2. Hi Gen, thanks for your comment. Good for you! Go out and enjoy the trails and when you get back, book another one in your calendar. :) Best wishes, Duncan.

  3. Good advice. Certainly in your profession Duncan. While you get to share in the happy moments; you deal with the unfortunate parts of life from the flock as well. Keep exploring and know the little bit's of empathy you share can really mean a ton. It was only yesterday I recalled a padre at our decompression site in cyprus looking at what forward observation post I was coming from and just saying..tha tmust have been a tough 8 months out there. That little bit of empathy stuck with me. I tracked him down last night and wrote him a thank you note. We seldom do recognize the empathy unfortunately. show it towards yourself too Duncan.

    1. Your kind words are deeply touching, Lee. Through my years as a military chaplain I had, and continue to have, the highest respect for soldiers such as yourself, and our own son, who served in the most difficult of deployments. Thank you, my friend. Take good care. Duncan.