A good antidote for the fear and strife rife in today’s world. Take a few minutes…
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
The true destiny of man
I found a bench on the upper reaches of the promenade, away from the clamour of the town. No sound reached my ears beyond the distant cry of a gull and the buzz of a passing bee. My mind was stirred by the magic of the moment and words rushed in to capture it on a literary canvas. The breeze was hardly perceptible. Brown crisp leaves from a former season, strewn around like a legion slain on a battlefield, remained dormant and still. A tree formed a canopy over my head, its boughs, heavy with foliage, swaying gently. The rays of the sun pierced the tapestry of branches, forming shafts that created tiny pools of light playing among the detritus. The universe at my feet contained insects scurrying in their own garden of delight. A colourful Jay foraged among tufts of grass on the green expanse spread before me.
In the near distance delicate white butterflies danced madly is if entranced by the heat of the sun, their wings gossamer thin, their desire perhaps for a shaded place to rest among the trees that populate the slope below the promenade. In the distance the sea was as calm as I had ever seen it, the inertia creating a patchwork of hues, blue and grey, reflecting the grandeur of the sky, with wispy clouds scattered across the endless firmament. Surely God had blessed that place, a piece of heaven come to earth, a glimpse of paradise where the madness of the world was hushed, where no evil entered and no discordant voice intruded to dispel the vision. I was fortunate indeed to chance upon a spectacle of nature, a harmonic symphony of the elements drawn by divine brush strokes, a time-capsule of near perfection.
Down below the promenade, beyond the stately trees, the elegant tamarisk and the woodland debris that cracks and splinters underfoot, there was the sea. That day it presented a placid face, tomorrow perhaps a frown of fury. It appeared metallic, yet it was liquid; it appeared to be overlaid with a sheen of ice, yet it was fluid. Motion was minimal and languid, a vast lake of calmness and serenity, a silky veneer over a multitude of life, a seascape of peace whilst on land the fortunes of mankind were being played out in turmoil, generating the whole gamut of aspirations, an endless complex puzzle, a delicate infrastructure of loss and gain on the shifting sands of human emotions.
We need these moments when the stillness of the sea represents eternity, when it shines as a mirror into which we can peer to reflect and meditate. We cease our strivings, we still our souls, we breathe clean air and recollect what it means to be truly human, to absorb and exude something infinitely superior to lesser beings, to be in communion with spiritual things, not worldly things. We need these moments to recapture our human sensibilities, to place ourselves in proper perspective to the meaning of life, death and redemption, to retrieve in our minds the right order of things under heaven whilst we await the signs and omens. These portents of change and renewal will beckon a new world but the coming transformation is beyond what the human mind can envision. We know only that the Kingdom of God will be good and true and magnificent and there will be an absence of conflict, an abundance of love, an inviolable regime of harmony.
What we see now is through a glass darkly, what we see then will be clear and brilliant. Deceit will be banished, wars unheard of, ambition unknown, desire superfluous. What we have on earth we can spoil, what God has in mind for us we can thwart. Here we have an uncertain hold on our destiny, there we will know love as the fullness of salvation, the completion of everything that has substance and meaning. Here we are a fusion of good and bad, strength and weakness, there we will know restoration of the human spirit. Here we have worldly concerns that overwhelm us, there we will be enrolled as harbingers of light and peace. Here we are unworthy servants, there we will be kings. We will live life as man was ever meant to live it beyond this mortal coil.
Colin Markham, December 2022