“Abbot Anthony said: Just as fish die if they remain on dry land so monks, remaining away from their cells, or dwelling with men of the world, lose their determination to persevere in solitary prayer. Therefore, just as the fish should go back to the sea, so we must return to our cells, lest remaining outside we forget to watch over ourselves interiorly.”
Thomas Merton, “The Wisdom of the Desert“, page 29
God always comes along on these walks with me, whether I ask him or not. Sometimes he’s silent, sometimes has a lot to say; sometimes he just can’t get a word in edgeways as I pour out my heart, other times, as the solitude and the rhythm of walking calm me down I am quiet enough to hear the voice of the one who’s been there, and probably trying to catch my attention, all the time.
On today’s walk I think we were both pretty quiet. For my own part I enjoyed spending a day in God’s creation, being amazed and ‘quietened’ by it’s beauty and complexity. There was quite a strong breeze, causing choreographed lines of white-topped waves, their crests being blown into clouds of spray when a particularly strong gust of wind caught them at their highest point, or when they broke over the rocks. I’ve actually never been to this part of the island before, and hadn’t appreciated it’s wildness…it seems a world away from the more domesticated part of the island, around the village and the priory.
The long, desert-like sand dunes were unmarked by footsteps, like a virgin snowfield. In places I came across the occasional tracks of a seabird, or fading tracks of a dog walker and their dog. Apart from a couple of glimpses of distant walkers, I was alone.
I sat on an upturned tree stump and ate a Galaxy Caramel egg (mini, I hasten to add!) and listened to the waves, the winds and the seabirds. Later, I sat close to the water’s edge watching the waves of the incoming tide and enjoying lunch, courtesy of Asda’s lunchtime meal-deal.
Soon it was time to go, and I followed the coast around towards the castle, past beaches littered with washed up tree stumps and multi-coloured plastic bottles. I walked in the shadow of the castle, round past the harbour and over the footpath to the village square, en route for St Mary’s Church, with it’s bright splash of daffodils growing around the shelter of it’s walls.
The out-of-season church was deserted and still, and I was able to linger there in the silence, thanking God for a good day, when, above all, I feel I had regained a sense of perspective in my life and my place in God’s world. Sometimes, God’s silences shout very loudly.