Ministerial Meandering

Hold on to it

It is a strange sensation, to be transported back to Africa by the sound of a raven in the snow-covered forests of the northern Gulf Islands of British Columbia - but it happened.

There are moments of quiet and stillness that are so intense that you could touch them, and wrap them like a blanket around yourself, scared that something might change, and the moment suddenly be gone forever.  Times in the African bush at night, when we turned off the motor of the Land Rover next to a night-feeding giraffe as he silently pulled the leaves off the thorn tree and almost as quietly munched them.  Looking up, we could see the whole canopy of the Milky Way, stretched out especially for our benefit, as though someone had said, ‘Let’s give them a real treat tonight.’

One day recently, we stopped in a clearing in the woods along the trail in the snow, and listened to a raven calling, his voice echoing off the Douglas firs, and sinking deeply into my auditory memory.  His voice was accompanied by the pressure of the silence around us that only snow can give, and we stopped, soundless, in speechless prayer and wonder.

The raven recalled for me the times we had stopped on similar occasions on bush walks in Africa on foot, to hear the call of birds in distant conversation with each other, with only the cicadas continuo accompaniment.

The first day of our break gave us an experience we never quite managed to repeat.  The south-east point of Gabriola is a tiny Provincial Park called Drumbeg.

The sea is reached down a cascade of slippy, lichen and moss-covered flat rocks - and that day it was as still as an unblinking stare.  Nothing moved - not the air, not the water, not even the dogs for that moment. Then without a sound, a sea lion cracked the surface of the mirror and turned to look at us.  We didn’t spoil his moment - this was his place, not ours, and we respectfully paid him the homage due, barely daring to breathe.

If I could have wrapped that tranche of eternity, I would share it with you now; I would cover you with it so that you could feel everything that was not there.  No sound, no time, not even a real place - just a sense of being where we were meant to be for that short moment of our existence, in some kind of eternal tableau never to be repeated.

Forever and never gone - a gift of God.


Philip +

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