Growing up on a farm in the mountains, much, regarding the interconnectedness of everything, is taken for granted. Life follows death in a continuous cycle, matching the seasons in their turn. Predator and prey co-exist in delicate balance. Water a constant concern – either too much or too little, never just enough; the struggle to improve earth, to ensure the fruits of autumn will sustain till the new growth of spring; fire an essential tool in renewing that spring growth on the mountain; air, that one fateful year of Chernobyl, a fickle companion.
One year, a stranger came to the local village. He suffered terribly from depression and a general mental anguish which he associated with living in the city, and felt that taking a holiday rental in the country may help in some way. I must have been around 14. For some reason, our extended family took him under our wing.
One perfect summer day, he and I were walking back from a fishing trip. Turning a corner in the road, we faced a vista of which I was only too familiar. Green, rolling hills climbed to blue-purple mountain peaks. Below us, the river meandered, sparkling blue, through lush water meadows; the house shone, nestling on raised ground between the confluence of two streams. Swallow and swift flew around our heads catching the evening swarm.
He stopped dead in his tracks. “You are so lucky,” he cried, “to be living so close to God.”
Looking around I was taken by surprise. Viewing my home, through this stranger’s eyes, something confusing happened. In the dying light of the evening, the sunlight sparkled its net over the waters below. The net of light shifted over the entire landscape, shimmering spots, all interconnected by filaments of bright light; mountain tops glowed, and shimmering banners flowed between them, feeding the network below.
In that moment, I somehow knew that this deeper truth had always existed, yet would not return to examine it for a further decade.