Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Called to freedom

For many, perhaps, the environment most likely to equal the trees for communing with God at any level is found in a garden; for some, the product of their own handiwork in particular: their own garden. Mine figures large in my own life, but other than as a major part of home, with all that is meant by that focus of stability and comfort – what I have previously referred to as my ‘Base Camp’ – its relevance in the present context is not particularly that it is a garden, but a space in which nature is given much more of a free rein than most true gardeners would allow. (4 & 5.7.07  Talk of trees … and of a tree)

I do not separate myself from imagined views of the Garden of Eden in Genesis, but I do find it impossible to see it as what we commonly speak of today as a garden: a controlled, manicured and cultivated area, however beautiful that may be. Yes, scripture tells us that ‘God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it’ (Genesis 2:15), but that was to come, or would have done had he not been banished from it. Eden was more beautiful than anything Adam or any other man could have made of it.
We all have an inbuilt awareness of that as a profound truth, both in our use of the name to describe the astonishing wonders of parts of the world we are too late recognizing as mere remnants of what was here before we wreaked havoc with it in our advance towards ever (supposedly) higher levels of what we refer to as ‘civilization’, and in our naming of particular places that stir us in ways that rouse in our consciousness echoes, not only of Eden, but of something less tangible to which we are still connected by the ever-present lifeline manifested in our doubts (previous post). ‘Cathedral Grove’ on Vancouver Island, Canada, springs immediately to mind.
Eden is unimaginable without trees; without trees not only its garden but Eden itself would not exist.
‘From the soil, God caused to grow every kind of tree ...
with the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’
(Genesis 2:9)

Leaving gardens aside, however (if we remain within their confines we shall never discover what walking is), the only equal of woods and forests – for me at least – is hills and mountains. And whenever I find myself in a landscape where each becomes an essential part of the other, whether in Canada (28.5.09  On looking up.), in the Pyrenees (23.1.12  God is present) or during frequent visits to my local wooded hillsides, I can find myself as close to being in Eden as I could possibly hope to be.

It is the call to freedom which takes me there and which would carry me further if I had the nerve to keep going; not just an undeniable summoning from places to which I long to return, or the inbuilt desire for silence, for solitude, for space, but a call to a peace beyond all experience, yet known to be attainable at the end of a real walk: a walk without pre-planned circuit or loop, with reminiscences of what has been left behind outweighed by anticipation of that which lies ahead, and with no requirement to be back by a certain time, the same day, or even tomorrow. A walk along the one trail that has been beckoning, perhaps for years, but which has been put off for any one of a dozen possible reasons. A longer, higher, and in all ways deeper walk into the unknown; a venturing, for which my years of security and contentment spent within sight of the fireside glow of my Base Camp have been preparing me.
Perhaps it will be the fulfilment of that awareness which blossomed and thrived in each of us when our earliest walking promoted us to being called “Toddlers”. 
‘... at three,
This poor weaned kid would run off from the fold,
This babe would steal off from the mother’s chair,
And, creeping through the golden walls of gorse,
Would find some keyhole toward the secrecy
Of Heaven’s high blue, and, nestling down, peer out –
Oh, not to catch the angels at their games,
She had never heard of angels, – but to gaze
She knew not why, to see she knew not what,
A-hungering outward from the barren earth
For something like a joy.’
(Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Aurora Leigh)

An awareness too easily lost in later life, but of which we can be reminded by the tiniest of things:

‘I have not so far left the coasts of life
To travel inland, that I cannot hear
That murmur of the outer Infinite
Which unweaned babies smile at in their sleep
When wondered at for smiling;’
(Aurora Leigh)

About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
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