November Replenishes the Soul

The Giant’s Causeway in November

November Day Replenishes the Soul

On a day when the weather has produced the grey November day authors graze by, wondering of the under croft of life covered by cloud I took up an unexpected invitation to go to the Causeway.  Our shining tourist asset now given the full preparatory tinful of lore and spin.

With the prehistory and tourist froth set to one side and a half local half foreign ensemble gathered to go it was with ease and relaxed expectations we set out.

The city of Belfast girded itself for a weekend of spending and or spoiling for a fight.

Grey dry sky’s moved and shifted over the motorway until the coast road arrived and settled into a rhythm of navigating and hugging the sea road.  Green slopes, rocky escarpments giving way to inland refuges of small villages, ports and harbours. Views clambered over by inhabitants hopefully to wake up each day and observe the sea. Replenishing their history, the reward for finding a piece of dry land.  A piece of land summarizing the life journey and obedience reluctantly conceded to nature. On inland roads interconnecting harbour towns and hill villages remaining forests, farm buildings, farm machinery, turkey, cattle and sheep sheds along with churches, rugby and GAA fields fringed the patterns of the landscapes relationship with the Ulsterman.  Cutstone houses narrating an origin, a story of the settler jut like sore teeth on slopes and alongside clambering habitats.

The bays and sea vital as forces providing sustenance for the land and it’s occupiers.

It was a seven wave day.  Around five to seven waves rose and fell on the flat shoreline and on rougher rugged parts the waves broke down in twos and threes, No space to unfold.

Across the plain flat height of Ballintoy the white tower and white box meeting house, the Ballintoy Church stood out with God central and visible as a force of the people hereabouts.

Many a life has passed in and out its doors and this week as other weeks new ideas and refreshed old ones sumon up to speak silently and loudly with the sacred space set aside for the worship of God amidst this plenitude of nature.

The coast lends itself to narrative to escapism and expectation? The vastness of our minds can escape, seem wider, seem limitless surrounded by this power, this force we share and live with.

The new visitors centre is sculpted out of imported stone laid flat and deferential to the main phenomenon, the Giant’s Causeway which has now has no room to disappoint.

Legend, the Giant is attached. Lost connections, the Causeway is present. The icon is here.

Thoughts are conceived, seen and felt. The senses all are there to be greeted by the spirit and sanctuary of the place.

When the trip end is reached, when footsteps on this Winters day are made and fellow visitors become part of the stimulus, their interaction with the place; bold and tentative, lost and found, gathered and drawn, rooted and alive, pictured and logged, immersed and enfolded, restored and reflective this place becomes a universal marker.

Each day is different, each footstep single but put together they become and are an endless journey.  There is no end in sight no alteration to change.

People exchange phones and cameras to become a part of it.  it is not the usual token photography but a heartfelt desire to capture the connection felt with nature, to capture this common affinity. I gather a Chinese American mother father son together, the mother reluctant to go too near the cauldron of foaming bubbles a few feet away while the son asks questions as to how it occurs while ensuring they all are in shot. Most are unaware of the extent of the promontory as the sea is relatively close in right now and the walk to the breaking waves is fairly level safe and short.  When the tide is going out it leaves a treacherous wet surface covered in thin unseen algae and tiny pools making things much more difficult to traverse.

At this time it is comparatively tame and ‘conquerable’ insofar as it is ‘tackleable’ it gives up its awesome spectacle relatively helpfully.

The white breaking waves spill over the Causeway hiding its steps and spume tumbles frothing bubbles clustered and huddled between the stones. The low sun catches it glistening tawny shaking shimmer while the north wind lifts the uppermost froth and sends it across the stones between us, this gentle soft foam appearing as visible as snow flakes and as mini clouds of a cocktail from the sea.floating inland.  It is mesmerising, worth a whoop and a holler such breathtakingly real this abundance and collection of natures beauty is, here before us, just here where we are. Under our feet the world as form and shapes, structure and origin, ethereal and definitive, all part of Gods magnificent splendour.

Stand among the buildings anywhere, among the trees, on an open plain and remind yourself of the experiences you have gathered in and the people you see and meet and then relax.

Whatever goes on here goes on everywhere.

Standing there you become aware of the ferocity of nature and with so many disasters present in the everyday it makes us think perhaps to be looking forward and to remember what is behind us, that knowledge we are recipients of.

John Graham

30 November 2013


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