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
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