Here is the pdf.
Trappist abbeys are placed in flat landscapes because [they] impel the mind to the contemplation of last things.
Another reason for moving to Westray was an urge to be able to see the horizon, such as this one today:
After spending a few moments contemplating this horizon, I walked a bit further and came across hundreds of Guillemots perched on ledges on cliff faces.
I watched as they dived from the ledges, for a few seconds plunging towards the sea, then frantically flapping their wings, levelling off for a while, then landing on the surface of the water a few hundred yards from the cliff. Presumably they were looking for food.
I watched others return in a roughly inverse movement, low across the water before ascending sharply back up to the ledges, to rejoin huddles of others. Why do they huddle? For warmth and shelter, perhaps to share the food they have caught?
There were hundreds of them, along with hundreds more gulls circling in arcs around the cliffs. Contemplation of last things seems to matter less when faced with such an abundance of life.
Another reason I was excited about moving to Westray was the possibility of being part of a community. I am unsure what community means exactly, but I am becoming more aware of how it feels.
Anyone driving past you in Westray will signal a greeting with their hand. When they pass you in the street, they say hello. I spent last weekend on Orkney mainland, and missed this.
Graham runs a taxi service that services the airstrip. If you call or text him he will come to your house to pick you up on the way. As Graham dropped us off at the airstrip, he then changed into his fire-retardant suit to take up his role as fire officer. It is not uncommon for people to have a number of jobs or take part in a number of committees, not all of which are paid.
Hans Jonas talks about the importance of, 'Letting more inconvenience into our lives'. I have been asked to consider joining the fire and coastguard services. What am I prepared to do for the community?
I have joined a Quaker group. I am yet to understand fully the gravity of sitting with others in silent worship, but it is not the same as sitting in solitude.
A member of the group is allowing me to use her house to write something I am working on. When I asked how I get in to the house when coming to write, she replied, 'You open the door.' Doors are left open, keys are left in cars. The library does not require proof of address. There is trust and generosity; perhaps these are requirements of community.
In communities there are others who might feel similar to how we feel, perhaps about something that is not easily expressed, or perhaps not held in common with many, but is deeply felt.
I have not forgotten the words spoken by a member of the group following a recent ATM Science of Education working group meeting: 'These meetings are a lifeline for me.'
Each separate being in the universe returns to the common source.
One of the reasons I was excited about moving to Westray was the possibility of becoming closer to something, to gain some kind of insight.
You could call it nature, perhaps the 'common source', or what Joseph Campbell calls the 'Great Mystery'. Perhaps it is contact with Bennett's conscious energy that passes through us all always, but is rarely noticed. How might one gain insight into the mystery?
According to Genesis 1:2, the earth began as void before, 'the Spirit of God moved over the surface of the waters', causing movement. I liken this to the movement of the mind. From where does this wandering arise, and why?
[Compare this with Vishnu floating on the cosmic sea, dreaming reality into existence. How is it that we believe we participate in dreams?]
In yoga, one aims to stop the wandering of the mind, but might the work be in working towards a life of stillness, a return to serenity?
Silence may provide the stillness through which we might notice higher energies working through us. PD Ouspensky suggests we may all benefit from breaking the 'habit of talking'.
There is serenity in immersing oneself in nature - in the whole of which we are a part - and 'Taking time to linger in those moments that we become fascinated in objects.' (JG Bennett)
There is a danger of grasping for insight. Insight may come if we remain, as Heidegger noted, 'open to the mystery'. The waves, in their natural rhythm, bring the sea towards us.
After all this solitude, I have found serenity from being able to spend more time with those I love, a return to the source of family. This is truly a gift. As Pierre Lacout suggests:
In this inward quiet, the soul must not be concerned with thinking much, but with loving much.
[Thank you Mike for inspiring me to write something...]