THERE will be other days as
lovely, never doubt it. The leaves fall and the glass runs down; but for
others they will come again, the golden days that never die.
For the two of us, though -- for you and for me -- it may be that this day
will come but once; yet, if we are wise, the mystery and wonder of it will
remain with us for ever.
It is on days like this, when the heather blows in soft waves across the
moor, that the heart is taken back to the old songs and the old spells.
The hills are once more the chosen abode of the Little People, and the
green glens are full of the enchantment of forgotten centuries. What
secret lies hidden in the dark forests that march up the hoary flank of
the mountain? Walk in them -- listen to the pine-needles crunching under
your feet -- smell the bitter-sweet fragrance of the sun-warmed trees --
and you will still be none the wiser. But you will know that, whatever it
is, it is magic; and you will be warmed through and through by the glory
of it. In spirit, you will become, for a moment, a pagan and a child of
Nature, looking with eyes of understanding upon an untouched world.
Do you not hear the faery violins of the grasses as they bend and bow to
the breeze? They are playing for you. The trees are touching their harps
for you -- the heather-bells are murmuring a song which reaches out to all
the lost and lonely places of your soul. You are happy for the sun-kissed
summer flowers -- and sad for the broken reed at the edge of the mourning
stream. Whatever else you have known or failed to know about life, you
feel that this day will live forever in your heart.
"For this day," you say to yourself, “is mine-and this day I will keep
until all the sands of life are washed away by all the seas of time. For
in this day I have stood on the hills again after long absence, and they
have offered me renewal, and the vagabond heart of me has come home.”
It is on days like this that the very air seems to speak with faery
voices; and the eyes are opened to unimagined enchantment, so that while
the senses cry “This is madness" the spirit cries “This is real!”
Clear as a bell, and beautiful almost beyond bearing, the song of a
thousand burns ripples over the strings of the heart. The grass is more
perilously green than ever before; the mist a dryad's veil blowing in the
wind. The dew lies like tears on the faces of the harebells, but they are
tears shed for beauty, and not for gricf.
Down in the glen, the shaggy red cattle stand at peace under the tall
trees and the woman at the bothy door forgets her weary task and looks
away up into the mountains, with that in her eyes for which there are no
For all of life which is hungry and all of life which is sad mellows, on
days like this, into a quietness, a contentment which yet has in it an
element of the forlorn. Almost, we understand the eternal mystery at the
core of things; and deep within us is born again something of the child
looking innocent-eyed upon an enchanted world, or of the lover who has
plucked the stars for the hair of his beloved.
On this day, we can forget about life as we have known it -- not because
we are callous, or insensible of the great tasks that yet remain for us to
do -- but because this is the one great day that may not come again; the
day wherein we can draw strength from the present to meet the future.
We are out of the city now. The smoke no longer chokes us; the dust has
been blown away by the hill-wind. The amber waters of the singing burn
have already washed a little of the grime from our souls. We are back at
the heart of the earth, alone-and wondering if our sense of values has
always been the right one. Does money matter so much, after all? It will
not buy us anything lovelier or more precious than sunlight. Does
popularity matter -- popularity with the little, social-climbing people
who so often creep into our lives? It cannot give us happiness; and there
is no-one in a cocktail-bar who can talk to us with the voice of the
hill-streams. We have suffered, little or much, in our journey towards
this moment? It is forgotten; for the journey is ended, and the moment
ours, to keep for evermore.
Yet, because of this day, and what it has meant to us, we will not forget
the sufferings of others. How many there are now living in darkness, whose
work entitles them to greater material comfort than ourselves! But we will
remember, from henceforth, that to give them material things will not be
enough. We must also give them beauty, as this day has given beauty to us.
All this, we learn and repeat to ourselves as we stand listening to the
voice of the stream, whispering its message among the great hills. Our
thoughts are neither clear nor coherent; but, anew, we have the sense of
striving towards something outside our own lives, and dimly -- so dimly!
-- we glimpse the glory of the great pattern of which we, too, are forever
a part. There is so much we would understand and cannot. So much we would
accomplish -- had we but strength and time. Yet there is one thing of
which we can be sure-one truth in which we may find rest:
Life passes. Beauty passes not away for ever, nor dies except to live
again. The lined and furrowed faces of the hills look down at us across a
thousand-thousand years -- and, as always, they are wise and lovely, the
faces of peace.
Soon, then, the evening comes. And, reaching out into those mysterious
silences of the spirit where each of us stands forever alone, we hear as a
half-forgotten tune the age-old cry of the wandering heart:
"Take me in your arms, O Mother Earth, for I am weary and would rest. Even
as this day, I have been born to mirth and tears, the shadow of my life
drifting, among a million other shadows over the hills and cities of my
little world. There has been the grey rain of early morning; the noon
sunshine like a flame to light my way; and now the purple dusk and the dim
stars and the soft sound of the eternal waters washing over my soul. Night
and Nothingness are on the hill; and, in an hour, this day of days will be
drawn into the empty spaces, beyond thought, beyond dreams, beyond life.
"So I, when my hour comes, would pass into the Great Unknown, neither
remembering nor forgetting, slipping as silently as a cloud over the rim
of the world, or fading like colour upon the darkening face of the sea.
"And, as this day, I, too, in my time may rise again, to walk with Beauty
down remembered ways. For so runs the chain all that lives shall die; and
all that dies shall live anew.
A summer day, Loch Lubnaig