29 June 2020
A Moment to Reflect -54
I should be in Spain just now …not that there is any moral obligation for me to be there at the moment, of course, but simply that we had our regular annual holiday visit to Spain planned a long time before the pandemic struck. Uncertain of how things would work out, our flights were cancelled some time ago. There’s always next year!
For many years now, Dawn and I have been going to southern Spain in the summertime, escaping to a house owned by a family member. Neither of us would enjoy the typical ‘beach holiday’ in a busy seaside resort in Spain or anywhere else. And certainly, when I saw pictures of Bournemouth beach recently, invaded by a half a million sun-seekers, my first thought was to recall the words of Jean Paul Sartre, “L’enfer, c’est les autres” (Hell …is other people!) To be fair, I actually also believe that Heaven is other people but that’s another story for another time.
When we go to Spain it is to a quiet little town between the sea and the mountains. The house we escape to is a very short distance from the sea but looks directly on to the mountains behind. In the morning you can watch the sun rise out of the sea: in the evening you can watch it set behind the mountains. Perfect.
It’s an interesting space …between the mountains and the sea. In Biblical thinking the sea is nearly always a symbol of chaos, turmoil and danger. (Hence the vision of John in Revelation of a new heaven and a new earth where “there is no more sea.”) Mountains, on the other hand, are seen as places of insight, revelation and nearness to God. Moses, for example, receives the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Jesus goes up into the hills to pray and, at the “Transfiguration,” his three closest disciples, literally and metaphorically, see him in a new light. [Luke 9:28-36]
Most of our lives are lived neither on the mountaintop nor in the raging storms of an angry sea but somewhere in-between. So, over the next few days I want to reflect on mountains and seas and the places between them. Alongside a picture of mountains in Spain reflect on these words from the Scottish novelist, William Boyd.
“Why does the sea induce these feelings of transcendence in us? Is it because an unobstructed view of overarching sky meeting endlessly stirring water is as close as we can come on this earth to a visual symbol of the infinite?” ― William Boyd, Any Human Heart
Shortly I will be on holiday but not going away anywhere. What is now called a “staycation.” During my ‘staycation’ I won’t writing my blog, but other members of the church will share some reflections on Facebook.