Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Home Thoughts from Abroad

Here I am almost two months since arriving from England and I'm wondering what happened to the time!  Of course days have been spent trying to restore the rooms in the house to normal after the chaos of building operations.  Recently we decided we needed a break and went on a ten day holiday to various places within four or five hours driving time from home.  What a wonderful holiday it was - a real tonic and a time of re-vitalisation for the spirit as well as the body.

One place in particular stands out in my memory.  The location is called Bavian's Kloof and it is a wilderness area, totally unspoiled by modern developments.  We stayed alone in a small cottage built by Italian prisoners of war during WW2.  There was no electricity, though there was running water and the bathroom was open to the skies!  The only company we had were baboons who could be heard but not seen.  The peace and tranquility of the place soon seeped into our bones and although there were plenty of interesting sites within walking distance, such as a beautiful waterfall and some ancient cave paintings, we just stayed put, drinking in the peace and realising just how true it is that all life is not only connected but is truly one.

We stayed out in the evening, long past sunset and marvelled at the huge expanse of stars, brighter by far than it is possible to see from urban areas where so much artificial light robs us of a clear view of the beauty and majesty of the heavens.  We began to appreciate there what starlight really means.  It brought home exactly how much modern humanity has sacrificed to embrace the modern Western way of life.  Spend a little time in a wilderness and you soon come to realise our own insignificance when compared to the glories of nature and the wonder of the night sky.  Yet, at the same time, one also understands how lucky we are to have self-consciousness that enables us to understand, albeit indistinctly, that the spirit which supports all parts of the natural world is the self-same spirit that is the motive force of our own lives.

I know it is frequently quoted that one is "closer to God's heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth."  I found myself at Bavian's Kloof questioning this assertion.  As the beauty and tranquility of wild nature  impressed itself upon my awareness I felt I was much closer to understanding the claim by the Psalmist, "Be still and know that I am God."  Indeed, God has been so kind to allow me, even at my age, to come to a country where Man's effects on the landscape are still minimal in many places:  A country, which despite widely reported violence and frequent power cuts, masquerading under the name of "load shedding," offers such wonderful opportunities to obtain greater understanding of humanity's true role in God's plan and thus an inkling of the role each individual has in working out the plans of our creator.

I know it is easier to experience this closeness to nature in the balmy days of summer, as it is here at present but even in snowy and icy Europe, it is still possible if you find the right places.  Even if it is not possible to find a physical place near you where this can happen, don't forget you can go within and in the silence of meditation discover the same truths.

May your God go with you.