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Unto The Hills
The Priestess of the Dawn

SO quietly, so gently did she come at last, that the precise moment of her arrival, might have eluded us, had we not been keeping vigil for an hour against her coming. Standing there in the velvet darkness of the winter night with no sound save the rise and fall of each other's breathing, the soft crunch of snow as we moved our frozen feet, we had become spellbound and drowsy, stunned by the weight of the silence around us, completely detached from the outside world. ourselves as part of the Eternal Calm.

The darkness pressed so close upon us that we could see nothing but the shadowy outline of each other; but all around and beyond we could feel the great hills gathered in meditation; and we knew that they, too, were waiting to share in a rite as old as the Earth.

For what seemed an eternity, we stood wordless bef6re the mystic altar of our faith -- and slowly, imperceptibly, desolation crept upon us. We were cold and lost and over-powered by the emptiness, more bitterly alone than the loneliest of the mountains. And there was no Heaven, no Earth anywhere any more -- only a great, unbreakable, unbearable Silence. . . .

AND then a spark leapt and flickered somewhere in the darkness -- a tiny sound, rather felt than heard, echoed across the dead hills; while, away in the East, a single streak of purest gold heralded the birth of the new day.

Hardly breathing now, we stood tense and still, watching the shining ribbon quiver and lengthen, trembling across the tops of the highest hills. New life began to stir in us like a flame; and, even as the pagan sun-worshippers of old, we lifted our heads and stretched welcoming hands to greet the Priestess of the Dawn.

She came walking on a pathway of light between the dying stars; and, all around us, the quiet hills turned to rose and gold, and then to blinding silver as the snow caught the rays of the rising sun. Subtly, the darkness folded her cloak about her and withdrew, and the first pearly ribbons of morning mist clung like a garland around the brow of the highest peak.

Warmth and light crept softly to where we stood, encircling us like a charm and, in a moment of wonder, we felt that we, too, had been part of the miracle of renewal -- that we, too, had died with the night and been born again with the new day.

Winter amid the Peaks, Beinn Eighe, Kinlochewe

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