Cast off by the sea,
Sandstone, beauty concealing,
Pure quartz lies entombed.
Just back from a holiday on the Jurassic coast of Dorset (www.jurassiccoast.com), I am reflecting on how much I enjoyed the break. Being by the sea in lovely weather is such a joy, and May in Dorset is especially magical. The rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias are in full bloom; the young swans are hatching in their hundreds at Abbotsbury Swannery, and the national collection of water lilies at Chickerell is breathtakingly beautiful.
We stay in the simplest of log cabins in an area of total peace and quiet with awesome views. It certainly raises the spirits and clears the mind when you have no network coverage on your phone, no TV, no internet and no computer to distract you! I planned to do lots of writing but I didn’t. Instead I read Thomas Hardy’s poetry, and, taking inspiration from the natural world around me, I did lots of drawings and zentangles – yoga for the brain!
Going on holiday gives us opportunities to open our hearts and minds to wonder and beauty. We have time to notice the lamb sleeping by his mother; the blue tit helping itself to the crumbs from your picnic; the poppies growing by the roadside and the cygnet trying in vain to hide under the mother’s wing.
I realise that these small beautiful moments are happening all around me all the time, the difference is I take notice when I am on holiday.
“Two men looked out through prison bars,
One saw mud and the other saw stars”
I don’t know where or when I first found this quote, but it is so relevant. Life is not on anyone’s side ~ it just goes on ~ and we make of it what we will. Whatever happens to us we have choices about how we feel and what we focus on ~ is it the mud or the stars?
The Haiku is about a very ordinary stone I found on Chesil Beach. It is a type of sandstone, roughly shaped by the sea over millennia. But on turning it over I saw a deep hole, like a cave in the stone, filled with quartz crystals. The beauty of it seemed to reveal the sacred hidden in a most unexpected place.
When I worked for a time at Prinknash Abbey I used to share the chores with a wonderful old monk. He was always so happy, building up the fire, sweeping the floor, even scrubbing out enormous pots and pans. His philosophy was to treat every task as a gift to God, not a sacrifice. He fully immersed himself in each task, doing it with reverence and radiating peace and stillness. I suppose today we would call this “mindfulness”, I called it the sacrament of the moment and I try hard to follow his example.
On holiday in Dorset I think I succeeded in seeing the good in everything I did as my photos below will show. I hope you enjoy them.