08 August 2019, The Tablet

I sat alone in silence and was absorbed into the mystery of beauty


I sat alone in silence and was absorbed into the mystery of beauty
 

My life got somewhat stressful last month. I will spare you the details, but in the end I fled to Moidart – in the Highland Council region– which is part of what are called the Rough Bounds of Lochaber, west of Fort William. It is an extraordinary, isolated, wild place: it had no road access until 1966 (you walked in or went by boat) and no mains electricity until 1988. It is also one of the areas of Scotland that the Reformation “missed” and remains predominantly Catholic.

Here, in a tiny “hermitage” on the north shore of Loch Shiel, over a mile along a rough track, I sat alone in silence and was absorbed into the mystery of beauty.

I am using the word “mystery” here rather deliberately; because I came away wondering (another carefully chosen word) whether the creation, natural beauty itself, could not properly be regarded and treated as a sacrament – the Latin translation (sacramentum) of the Greek word μυστ?ριον,or mystery. The beauty of the created world is as much, as deep, a mystery as the other more “churchy” sacraments.

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