Sometimes distance is so telling, the way back is impossible.
Visionaries and mountains go together. Many a great vision for life has come to people who have sat quietly in the rare air of mountain tops, gazing out into the vastness lined by distant horizons.
The room small and tight; its contents so familiar they no longer speak. Outside, the distance waits with outstretched arms and enticing whispers. It’s hard to say goodbye.
Space between trees, space between stones, space between people. Without space – the tyranny of the communal.
Standing in front of Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s home, and looking across the Kent landscape towards the Southern coastal region of England. One of those moments where I was once again overwhelmed by the beauty and expansiveness of the scene before me. I was reminded of the words of Carl Sagan: “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”
The Universe is huge. Perhaps huge is an understatement. It is endless, incomprehensible and infinite in distance and span. Pondering on this certainly evokes wonder and mystery, but also a profound sense of insignificance, smallness and even threat at times.
I find that this kind of thinking or meditating reinforces in me my need for belonging, for place and for closeness. It’s then that my thoughts go to my home, my garden, my community, my village, this tiny piece of earth where people know me by name, and I am overwhelmed with a deep sense of gratitude. This is where my boat is moored in this vast expanse we call the Universe.
Icarus flew too close to the sun and fell from the sky when his wings melted. When to keep your distance, and when to allow yourself to get close in life, is a matter of careful discernment.
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.