It was warm today, warm enough to walk in shirtsleeves. Parking the car amongst the site of devastation that is now Greystones harbour, we set out to walk to Bray. Last time I had done the walk, a sea mist had shrouded the head and clouded the view. Damp and clinging, it had chilled everything it touched. On an evening when even the slightest breeze would have been welcome, there had not been a breath to move anything. A wetness had lain heavily over everything, and over everyone who had walked through it. By the time the promenade at Bray had been reached, there had been a distinct sogginess around the edges.
It hadn’t been so in childhood days, mist then 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.
In the New Testament Letter of Saint James, Chapter 4 and verse 14, a question is asked, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
Reflecting on that walk; the all encompassing mist that had accompanied the coastal walk had seemed a bleak metaphor for a 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.
Walking the path today, after the funeral of a colleague, there was no mist, just the bright blue clearness of a summer’s day.