This morning, the weather remembered there are elements other than rain. We awoke to a beautiful blue sky, the kind Philip Larkin describes in High Windows: The sun-comprehending glass, And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.
We tidied up our lodge and drove down to the winter garden cafe. It has an open air veranda that looks up to the snow peaked hills and the ancient evergreen trees that rise like gayzers made from dark green wood, looking down towards the spires of red brick churches in the town below.
We drank coffee and stood on the Veranda, listening to birdsong, getting ready to go home. I have known these human beings since I was 12. We know more than we can say; more than we need to say; more than we’ve found ways of saying.
We thanked one another for the time spent laughing, disagreeing about politics, watching football and just being in one another’s company.
With an unspoken reluctance, we turned our back on the Perthshire hills, that were modestly magnificent in Spring sunlight underneath the azure sky. We said goodbye to each other.
And it was that saying goodbye. It was resonant with something, as if the wind off the hills brought with it the breeze of that goodbye which is the last goodbye. Like touching what’s most precious about being human and at the same time feeling it pass through your fingers – the people you know and love, who are fragile and time bound, and part of a shared story that will disappear from sight as quickly as the cloud that no doubt hides the Perthshire hills tonight.
But that wasn’t all it was. Not just a sense of finitude – something more than that – much more – the glory in how that finitude is not a full stop, but a comma, before something unbelievably beautiful – an intimation of the way we are all of us drawn into what Christ has done in becoming human, fully inhabiting our life, fully undergoing our death and rising again to – even now – draw us deeper and deeper into what lies ahead: like the words of TS Elliot in the second of his four quartets: In the end is my beginning.
I can’t really describe the overwhelming feeling I had, but listening to the 14th century Anchorite, Julian, comes close:
He that made all things for love, by the same love keepeth them, and shall keep them without end.Julian of Norwich
That is what I also sensed in our parting; Our finitude is not a full stop – in our end is our beginning. The good news of what Jesus has made possible: we belong to God. In my end, is my beginning, to begin to know the love I am loved with – that will never end.