“Come on, we’ll finish that walk this evening”.
A train ride to Greystones and the cliff path northwards. A sea mist shrouded the head and clouded the view. Damp and clinging, it chilled everything it touched. On an evening when even the slightest breeze would have been welcome, there was not a breath to move anything. A wetness lay heavily over everything, and over everyone who walked through it. By the time the promenade at Bray was reached, there was a distinct sogginess around the edges.
Mist in childhood days was different; the sea was a distant place, the damp clamminess of an evening on the Wicklow coast was a far off reality. On autumn mornings in England, the mist was a blanket of greyness that lay across the low lying moorland. In the summertime though, the mist was the harbinger of bright days and blue skies. The mist along Somerset lanes would fade to reveal lush green meadows or fields of wheat or barley. Going through the mist, there would be glimpses of rabbits and pheasants running for cover from the oncoming car.
Mist could make familiar roads mysterious. Shapes would change; houses passed every day had a different air about them. Concentrating on the way ahead, attention might be drawn to things that had been previously slipped by unnoticed. It seemed odd that something that obscured things could sharpen your awareness of their existence.
Summer mist was a shrouding, but also a foreshadowing of a glorious day.
The Keswick Block Calendar for today, Saturday 13th June, carries words from the New Testament Letter of Saint James, Chapter 4 and verse 14:
What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
Reflecting on the walk last evening; the all encompassing mist that had accompanied the coastal walk seemed a bleak metaphor for life. Is life no more than something cold and obscure that is blown away by some arbitrary passing wind? Is it a thing of insubstantial greyness?
Maybe the mist in Saint James is not the cloying dampness of an evening beside the Irish Sea, but the mist of a bright summer’s morning. Life, like the mist, might appear for a while, only to vanish, but in vanishing opens unimagined vistas.
Heaven as a country lane on an August morning – it would not be such a bad prospect.