This is a special place. I am standing on a hill above Porlock Vale, delighting in some of the many contrasts of Exmoor. Moorland spills into the sea. Farmland tumbles down towards the cliffs. Houses are held in the embrace of forests. Two kinds of summer heather jostle for attention. The yellow gorse, just past its peak, aggressively guards its position. The Bristol Channel, with the second largest tidal range in the world, re-arranges the beach on a daily basis.
It’s as though I am gazing on the sounds of a jazz band where the music is sometimes joyful, sometimes soulful but always passionate. There is a lot of playing together, but then one instrument stands out from the rest and goes its own way, revealing its distinctive sound and versatility. Meanwhile the others stand back and wait, maybe in silence, maybe in awe, until the soloist returns from their adventures. There are times when the gorse sparkles with a vibrant yellow, outshining other vegetation. At its height, the heather becomes a Persian carpet second to none. In the spring, the farmland resonates with the bleating of newborn lambs. Several times a year the sea flexes her muscles when her gentle voice becomes a roar, her waves strut proudly and her high tidal range makes its presence known. Then, for a time, spontaneity subsides and all becomes quiet, calm and unspectacular. This mixture of contrasts, distinctiveness, joy, soulfulness, passion and unpredictability makes up the beauty which I am imbibing.
So, too, with humanity. We may long for peace and quiet within ourselves, yet without passion, beauty and growth will be hard to find. We may look for order and predictability in our world, yet without spontaneity and uncertainty, joy dissipates. We may want constant movement and activity in our lives, yet without the calm and unspectacular, we miss signs of new life.
Appreciating and admiring the distinctive gifts and richness within the people and places around us releases our own distinctiveness, giving us greater confidence to play our own tunes and sing our own songs.
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