My Skye

Posted By on Sep 1, 2012 | 18 comments


I write this from a seat in the waiting area of Heathrow Airport. My flight is delayed. I find it best to take these things sitting down, with a cup of coffee, and some means of writing. Pret-A-Manget supplied a cappuccino, my faithful little laptop the means to write, and here I am with you until my gate finally opens.

The post that I’m burning to write is the one (or three) I have all ablaze in my mind about my days on the Isle of Skye. But I pause as I begin, struck by the vast differences between the utterly remote reaches of Skye, and the place in which I find myself at present. Here, countless faces bob round me in a waiting room, accents and loudly-spoken annoyances swirl and ebb, the flight screens blink their constant departures. I’m solidly back in the indoor realm of modern day travel, with its swift flow of talk and time. You might think that in here, my two short days in the wildlands of Skye would seem almost not to have occurred. Or at very least, rather irrelevant.

But au contraire. Right here, right in this skinny airport seat of navy vinyl, with pop music thrumming in the shop nearby, I can still taste Skye. Breath its calm. Get a bit giddy at thought of the walk down to the shore. For Skye, my friends, is now a place of its own at center of my heart.

Once in a long, rare while, I encounter a place, and a time within that place, whose splendor carves out a presence within me. It makes a room in my soul that is both memory and at the same time, a concentrated presence. Places such as these – a nook in the heart of the mountains, a strip of certain shore by a northern sea, or even a well-known, weathered old home- come to me with a physical presence so vivid I am able to know it as I would a friend.

In Skye, I found that friendship. And I think a great part of it was the rightness of it all, the way the lines and colors of the sea and moors feel almost unspoilt by sin. The way the hills lift their shoulders and closed-eye faces in such unflinching solemnity, while the sea is a sprite around them, restless, merry, and never the same mood twice. The quiet of the air is perfect. The wind is an ever-changing chorus of song. The beauty requires so very much seeing, such a focus of eye and mind that time suddenly expands. It’s almost like slipping out of chronos for a day or two’s sojourn in a long-houred world of tea in the mornings and long, long walks throughout the day, and the wind wuthering (isn’t that a lovely word?) around the eaves.

I stayed in a room with one window gazing down to the sea, and one up the long fields to the row of farmer’s homes. And that room was in the home a woman who went quite swiftly from hostess to friend. Her home and grace and friendship were the foundation of my time. Just look at that tea and shortbread for greeting.

I spent my single full day on Skye on a trip to Portree with my friend. I scurried round to little shops and hunted for the odd gift to bring home (yes family, you should be excited!). One our way coming and going, we drove straight through the famous moors and past the waterfalls and fell, heathered slopes. We shared a perfect Scottish lunch of cheeses, chutney and oatcakes.

And on the way back, my friend dropped me in one of the villages so I could have a wander, and then walk the long way home through the heather fields, through the farms of “Lower Breakish” and up the road where the sea glimmers a line in the distance. I knew I had a good dinner ahead of me (“pudding” was sticky toffee, thank you very much), so when a waiter raised his eyebrow at my intention to walk all the way back, I didn’t even flinch.

Why should I? I walked right through the staidness of those heather furred hills – heard the great quiet of the water and then its sudden change of mood. I rifled through the gem and gold and treasure chest of fields near the ocean, crammed with so many flowers and grasses and trees burgeoning in the wet air that it felt like a magic island. And I knew the great, vast freedom of air unfettered by all the noises of modern life.

The next morning, when I had to leave, I found to my joy that I wasn’t aching as I usually do at losing a place I love. For my time in Skye carved out a room inside of me – to which, even amidst the rumble and growl of an airport day, even on the sleepless trainride last night with highly irritating fellow passengers, even amidst the dear and disciplined rounds of home life, I may return. I think that’s one of the gifts of great beauty. It allows us a concentrated taste of the Goodness that makes it what it is. We reach through the beauty of physical creation into the heart of its Creator. And when we encounter Beauty himself through a particular place, it becomes a sacred space, memory, presence within our souls.

I know, I know. I’m constantly wanting to get away from “modern life.” I’m old fashioned, I can’t help it – I yearn for the old freedom of open places and great, unbroken quiet. I love long walks and dinners by candlelight with the wind howling outside (and I had a hostess who gave me both!). But it’s just because you can hear such grand things whispered on an early morning walk when the whole world is quiet and golden and blue. You feel so sure about God being just as beautiful as you always hoped he would be. You get all giddy with the scent of the sea air and begin to think crazy, miraculous things.

Do you know, at end of this trip, at end of Skye, I hope that one of the main things God allows me to do is offer such times to other people. To somehow make a home and life (preferably in some lovely corner of the earth) that offers the people who seek its shelter a taste of beauty that bears a promise, a whisper, of all the beauty that is to come.

Well. That’s about all I can say for now, and I need to go start worrying about my delayed flight. (Because that will do so very much good, right?) I hope you can taste, even the slightest, edge-of-the-tongue tang of what I knew in Skye. Because we should all have such worlds in our hearts.

Over and out from Heathrow…

18 Comments

  1. I can feel it, dear. Thank you so much for this introduction to Skye; it makes me want to visit (her?) too. What lovely images you’ve communicated! And I love your old-fashioned soul. Hope your travels simplified.

  2. Next time i’m coming with you…..Now i undestand why gran loved Skye sooo much.

  3. Thanks so much for the beautiful pictures & a story with perfect description (I am sure!)
    I just love stories & travels… they truly do go hand in hand!

  4. Oh my. I just feel like I’m right there with you…you give life to descriptions! Even serving in my loving trenches, I can go and be right where you were. This is a great start to my day! :)

  5. A place of beauty can be both present and longed for – isn’t that so like Christ. He is deeply abiding and yet we yearn…

    I do hope you find that special place to make a home from which to bless others. I am sure it will be a privilege for souls who are weary of modernity, to come there and be restored by both beauty and Beauty.

  6. Thank you for a glimpse of what you experienced and saw! Perhaps you already know that He is using you to share His love and grace with us? You, your mom and your brother are people after my own part Scottish, part English, part Cherokee, definitely too often harried American heart. :) I believe God will use you mightily wherever He gives you place and opportunity. Keep writing when you can.

  7. Oh Sarah. I feel that I could have written those words. My last visit to Skye was 9 years ago but that solitary island has shaped my and my husband’s lives In so many ways. Our business is named after Skye and just 5 weeks ago we were privileged to move our young family to the waters edge in Queensland. Every glance out my window here takes me back to that ruggedly beautiful island which found its way into our souls and has never left.

  8. Thank you for that glimpse of beautiful Scotland. I’ve always wanted to visit because my family came from there generations ago and I’ve always been enchanted by how wildy wonderful it seems. But reading your blog has filled a bit of that longing and made me feel as though I have seen it for myself. Don’t stop writing. You have a wonderful talent!

  9. So beautiful. I think I know another place I must visit sometime. ;) And, if you do have your cozy home in the beautiful corner of the earth…I think I might have to stop in for a visit. =D

  10. I love what you do with words. This post was balm for my soul today.

  11. ”I hope you can taste, even the slightest, edge-of-the-tongue tang of what I knew in Skye. Because we should all have such worlds in our hearts.”

    Sarah I eel it…. thank to you….

    Such a blessing..

    :-)

    Maddalena

  12. Loved this, Sarah! Thank you for sharing some of your Skye with us! I am serving here in Manila, Philippines…one of the most congested cities of the world…if not THE most congested. I often visit the place in my heart carved out by my times of wandering and soaking in the beauty of the forests outside of Colorado Springs, where my parents have a vacation home. The peace is still there. The beauty is there, and most of all, the Creator of all beauty is there, always ready to share the visit with me.

    Blessings, dear! Keep writing and sharing this gift.

  13. Ahh…(deep sigh of contentment). Simply lovely! :)

  14. I love your idea of sharing a piece of this beauty through your own special home someday. An inspiring, wonderful gift! You bring us alive through the sharing of this beauty. Thank you!

  15. Where are you, my friend? I miss your writings, they were (and are) life to some of my most tired moments. I vote for you to come down for a cup of tea and scones any time after the 8th of October (my parents are in town until then).

    Love,
    ~ Jody

  16. People who have the gift of writing can express and give shape to the thoughts and feelings that we have experienced but never defined. I have had the sorts of encounters you describe with places and from now on will always keep that picture of a “sacred place carved” into my soul. How perfectly expressed!!! Your thoughts remind me of one of my favorite poems “Daffodils.” After “wandering lonely as a cloud” and seeing these beautiful daffodils Wordsworth describes how they forever “flash upon that inward eye that is the bliss of solitude.” I have always loved the idea that we revisit beauty in our quiet moments, but I like the idea of those places and experiences being a place in our souls even better! Thank you so very much :)

  17. How lovely. I have missed your wistful images & ponderings… now that I am back in the blogging world, yours was one of the first to which I returned! Lord bless your sweet spirit, and I thank Him for opening the way for you to share it with us all. I too have places like Skye, carved tenderly within me, and shall treasure their poignant presence always. Many thanks, for sharing Skye with me. :)

  18. I am afraid that l have to go.The constitution guards the liberty of the people.I develop films myself.Take it easy, you will be all right in a couple of days.The figure seems all Right.How was your date?I haven’t seen you for ages.Old tunes are sweetest and old friends are surest.Speak louder¬£¬¨please.I can’t make this machine run properly.

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