Wandering Thoughts

May 30, 2019

Pantheism

Filed under: Ramblings and Musings — terence @ 10:51 am

The waves were minuscule. Tiny swells steepening, then spiralling as they tripped on sandbars, held-up by the offshore wind. There was no chance of surfing. There was no rushing to the car to hurriedly pull on a wetsuit. Instead I stood almost motionless at my vantage point on the viewing platform where the scrubby bush gave way to dunes.

I wasn’t disappointed though. The sun rose just as I got there. The sky above me was lined with thick grey cloud, sculpted into valleys and ridges by the storm above. On the horizon the cloud was just high enough to leave a gap between itself and the sea. Just enough space for the sun to bring the world to light as it passed up from the horizon. Not a red sunrise, but a soft melted-yellow light. The low green peninsular to the north caught it, as did the long sweeping point to the south. Rocks and headlands that had been grey moments before took on life and looked almost warm, inviting. The beach began to glow, swirls of sand twisting and moving, caught by gusts of wind. In the water, the shallows shone, the sun turning the waves a see-through green. Further out, the light turned whitecaps into constellations, each splash a soft-yellow star, part of patterns that stretched to the end of the earth.

Pantheism is the idea that one way or another god and the universe are the same. Or perhaps, that because all we can know is the universe, and because it is suitably awesome, we might as well think of it as god. It’s not much of a religion. It offers no guiding rules, no cures, no promises of a better place to come. I’m not much of a practitioner really either. Usually I tell people I’m agnostic – meaning agnostic about the idea of God the creator, or God with plans. And that’s true. Much of the time I’m not an active Pantheist. How could you be? There’s no rules. No practices. No way of weaving it through your life.

I’m what I call a hiker’s pantheist. Someone who sometimes stumbles round a curve on a track walking somewhere and sees a sight so awfully beautiful they can’t escape the feeling it must mean something. That everything must mean something. It’s a momentary faith. But they’re impressive moments.

And there is a lesson in hiker’s pantheism, I realised last weekend, as I stood watching an impossibly kind light bring everything to life for a few fleeting seconds before the sun was muted by clouds. When you get to witness it, there’s solace in the sublime, even if it offers no explanations, or cures, or promises. None of that, but there are moments. When you get them, make as much of it as possible.

It’s not a profound idea. Barely a consolation. Except when it is.

Surrounded by cloudy grey light, I turned tail, back down the track, hurrying, so I wouldn’t be late to meet my friends.

May 2, 2019

A simple trip

Filed under: Ramblings and Musings — terence @ 9:37 pm

As the plane flew south the lush green ebbed out of the land. Dryer, paler. Thirsty Australia returning. I’m usually irritated in flight or busy thinking through the job ahead, or heading home, imagining a comfortable bed. Occasionally I’m excited, imagining some place new. But this time I was on the edge of sad. An ache, not fighting tears, but a presence, a pressure, the need to swallow.

No good reason. It was a short simple trip. A visit to an old friend. Us speeding along narrow roads cut into sugar cane, checking beach after beach, talking about hopes and mistakes. A short simple trip, which let the past press forwards as I sat in that uncomfortable seat, and remind me of might-have-beens and missed chances. That was reason enough. A sort of sorrow, even as the falling sun started to catch that water left in the land. Farmers’ ponds, twisting rivers and ebbing lakes all getting their chance to shine, then fade, from gold to white, before flashing for a blinding moment, before they were left behind.

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