Have you ever sat quietly and looked at someone you love and realised that in spite of your closeness to them, there’s also in them a distance you cannot span? It seems to me that the distance we experience in relationship is the very thing that invokes our longing to be close and intimate. Managing these two relational dimensions has much to do with relational health.
I remember watching the movie “Out of Africa” the theme of which was this struggle and interplay between closeness and distance in the relationship between Karen Blixen (Merryl Streep) and Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford). What struck me at the end of the movie, were the words Karen spoke at his graveside, after losing him in an air accident – “…We loved him well. He was not ours. He was not mine.”
I’d like to follow this theme in a few more posts.
The Namibia landscape in Southern Africa. I had the privilege of living there for two years. A land of wide-open spaces, vast skies and mystery. I did this with a sepia pen and coloured pencil.
Year after year, I’ve watched this tree transform itself into the beautiful colours of Autumn. The transformation happens quietly, naturally, persistently and without any kind of fuss or grunt and groan striving for perfection. It just slowly happens.
I’ve often wondered why human beings can’t transform themselves in this way as well. Change always seems to be so immensely difficult in human life. Some say we can’t change in this way, while others say we can. Which is it? Well, as Forrest Gump would say, “Maybe it’s a bit of both.”
This morning I walked over to our village shop to buy milk and a newspaper. I pushed the door open and the owner smiled and greeted me by name. It’s a good thing to have your name spoken through a smile, so I smiled back and greeted him by name and wondered if he felt the same as I did. A smile and your name always goes a long way in affirming again your right to be here.
On getting home, I sat down with a hot cup of coffee, opened my newspaper, left the small world of village life and plunged into the vast sphere of politics, social happenings and intrigue. I didn’t like what I saw.
I’ve been deeply struck by what I can only call a sheer coarseness permeating our relationships, especially here in the UK at this time. I see it happening specifically in our language in the political sphere of life. Our words have become rough, raw and thoughtless, No doubt the nature of our language unveils the reach and depth of our souls. I’ve had to sit myself down and take a long inward look. Sadly, I’ve discovered a real lack of reverence and empathy.
Yesterday I was engrossed in watching the shadow of a cloud slowly move across the slope of a small hill. It was a moment of sheer beauty. It got me thinking of the landscape and the intimate relationship it shares with light.
It has this wonderful gift of being able to receive the light into itself and to immediately begin to shape it in diverse textures of shadow and colour according to all the nooks and crannies and angles of the terrain. It’s as if the landscape becomes an artist using light as the paint to produce a portrait of itself. I’ve often seen what I can only call breathtaking creations flowing out of this sacred and intimate relationship.
Yesterday morning early I was sitting in our lounge sipping coffee and listening to the wind blowing. As it caught the eaves of our home I heard its characteristic and mournful lament. It’s a sound that always touches something deep in me evoking what I can only describe as a sense of deep loneliness and longing.
I think at some level of our humanity, each of us is alone longing and pining for something we don’t really understand. The wind is a master at putting us in touch with this hidden and mysterious aspect of ourselves. I suppose it does this to us because in itself there are unreached realms of longing and mystery. There is much humanity in nature and nature in humanity.