The year's (re) discoveries
It began with a reminder of the sea - a brief holiday, before meeting Prince Charles and receiving an OBE, found me in Cornwall and St Ives. The weather was perfect, ever changing, crisp, cold, full of light and the sea was at my door. The sea holds, I feel, our deepest consciousness - of earthly origin and symbolically of a unity from which we step forth and yet remain a part of (even as we forget).
Whilst there I read Philip Marsden's 'Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of a Place' that is a marvellous account of coming to live in Cornwall and making of it home, coming to recognise the spirits that animate a locality and that invite one to it as home.
Paying attention to the education of nature was the theme of 'Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants' by Robin Wall Kimmerer who is both Native American and professional biologist. It is a beautifully written book exploring how different traditions might complement, rather than confront, one another to arrive at a deeply enriching whole.
For which both are an invitation to remember that 'knowing' is a emergent property of being. We come to know what we love and we love what we come to know. There is a necessary link between our connection, openness and vulnerability in being that allows us to see. The truth of this was witnessed to repeatedly as I read myself through the year. It is there in Aldous Huxley - our consciousness permits us to see, it is there in Charles Williams - our imagination conditions the possibilities of knowledge; and, it is there in the rich pattern of Orthodox theological thinking that Andrew Louth captured so engagingly in his 'Modern Orthodox Thinkers'. Here he relates a mostly lay phenomena of a remarkable group of men and women, many of them in exile from their place, who remind us that truth only matters when it is lived, when truth transfigures life into holiness, then it can be known, singing on the sinews of a person's embodied soul.
Let us trust that we seek it - a home, a comfort in the world and a place for the soul.