Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mountains laid low?

I am, perhaps, taking on a Goliath with a very small pebble. Nonetheless, it must be said that, on one point at least, I don't agree with the prophet Isaiah.
"Let every valley be lifted up . . . " he declares, " . . . and every mountain and hill be made low . . . "

Why . . . ? Surely we need valleys? Every bit as great is the need for

Without a mountain how can you hope to get the unparalleled view from the mountain top, the sense of perspective that this view provides, the satisfaction of the climb and the humbling of the personal ego?
Without a valley where can the rivers run, the lush vegetation proliferate and people and animals find relaxation, food and shelter?

For three days last week, Chloe and I enjoyed a holiday in Somerset.
The unfamiliar, country environment proved intoxicating to my urban cat.
Why had no-one ever told her about the excitement afforded by dry-stone-walls, and the heady smells of the country? She was determined to make up for lost time immediately on arrival!

But, for me, the highlight came the following morning. On pulling back the curtains I looked out of our south-facing window.

Spread out before me was a panoramic view of the gentle, Somerset countryside. The sun was rising behind the trees, the mist was rolling up the valley . . . and the effect?
There's only one word for it, it was breathtaking . . . totally breathtaking.
Without the hills, without the valleys . . . would there have been that incredible connection with the numinous?

Surely we need hills and valleys, both physical and metaphorical, not only to provide a challenge, but also to offer the blessings of awe and wonder?

To take this argument further, wouldn't you agree that human beings also have need of light and shade?
The brilliant sunlight, glistening and gleaming on the ivy leaves in this photo, needs the deep shade. It offers contrast and enhances its brilliance. By the same token, the shade itself would lack its velvety depths were it not thrown into relief by the intensity of the sunshine.

Ours is a world of contrast, wonderful contrast. Day and night . . . hot and cold . . . height and depth . . . each extreme sharpening our appreciation of its opposite.

Mountains and hills laid low . . . ? I'm sorry, Isaiah, but in this instance I beg to differ!