My wife and I always enjoy the trek up to Dunkery Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor. Being there for sunset is an extra treat. This particular day is ending with a bang rather than a whimper. Looking west we are mesmerized by the vision of the sun sinking into the horizon. The colours are rich, vibrant and alluring. Words from the Victorian hymn, ‘The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended’, float into my mind:
‘The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ‘neath the western sky.‘
I am drawn to this awe-inspiring vision as Moses was drawn to the Burning Bush on Mount Sinai, another high point in a land far from here. Nothing else matters because nothing else exists, not even time. I am lost in what I see before me. This experience is a gift to be savoured, enjoyed and delighted in. It can never be possessed or taken for granted.
It’s good to be here. The whole experience sings out mystery and relationship. ‘Mystery’ because there is something unfathomable and awe-inspiring about the sun: we can never delve into that life-giving ball of fire and trying to do so would be destructive. ‘Relationship’ because it is the dynamic between the sun and the earth that sustains life on earth. Just a few degrees hotter or colder would bring catastrophe.
Mystery and relationship are doorways to human flourishing. Beholding some-one or something of beauty triggers a mixture of warmth and excitement inside of us. It’s as though a connection is made with something deep within which enlarges our heart, releasing the potential for us to love and live more fully. Slowly, very slowly, we are being transformed. Gradually, very gradually we begin to see differently. Respecting and being thankful for the mystery will keep it alive: trying to possess will force it beneath the horizon. Honouring and enjoying the relationship enable it to grow and deepen: trying to control will diminish it.
The sun has set and it is time to walk down to the valley. We descend energised and renewed. We continue to walk our daily paths, with their ups and downs, with more focused eyes.
Contemplating Exmoor – Gallery
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