Tadhg’s journal excerpt: Having driven to Uwchmynydd (a coastal area in north Wales, meaning ‘top of the hill) and camped there overnight, I set the alarm on the mobile phone for 5.34am.
And, sure enough at 5.34am this morning the alarm sounded.
Donning suitable apparel (or so I thought) I headed to the beach. This area has a rugged, rocky coastline, except occasionally there’s some almost-sandy, secluded beaches, just when you least expect them – though I had ‘found’ this beach years ago . I knew it would take just a few minutes of a brisk walk to get to the beach, thus leaving a few minutes before the sun came up.
At 5.43 I was at the beach, with just a minute to wait for sunrise.
Kicking off my shoes – rash I know – I headed, barefoot for the water’s edge. Oh boy. If I thought I was awake before, I was certainly awake as the sea touched my feet for the first time. It was freezing. But it was a coldness-that-makes-one-feel-good-to-be-alive, sort of coldness.
And, then the sun came up.
I love to watch the occasional sunrise, and would heartily recommend the experience to you. Spontaneously, I quoted a verse from an old hymn (see below). It just happened – I hadn’t planned it, and hadn’t sang that hymn for many years, but the words poured out in praise.
Oh, for one celestial ray,
from the shining seats of day.
Sun of righteousness arise!
Warm our hearts, and cheer our eyes.
One of the things I like about the ancient and latter-day, Celts and Druids is their love for nature, passion both to enjoy it as a gift-experience from God, and to protect it. I looked around: the sky was somewhat overcast in places, the air was fresh, that is to say cold , and now the sun’s light and warmth could just be felt as it ‘hit’ my face. Here was nature, wild and raw, as experienced by Celts down the ages; and being experienced once more by another Celt, me. I loved it.
‘I come into the peace of wild things…’ Wendell Berry
As I walked just a few feet up the beach and away from the water’s edge, with sand squashing between my toes – a wonderfully ‘different’ feeling – again I was reminded of the ‘earthiness’ of those ancient Celts, those ancient peoples, as they experienced nature, both wild and raw.
I laughed to myself. We live in an age of facial wipes and disposable sterilised clothes, and yet the ancient Celts got wet, got muddy and cared not a jot. Jesus strode, manfully, into the Jordan to be baptised, spat into mud and spread it over someone’s eyes to restore their sight. Today, his disciples (probably) would have been only too careful to wipe that mud off afterwards with a disposable sterilised cloth, and promise next time to suggest Jesus use bottled water.
With the sun climbing higher in the sky I turned, and beheld the thickest, darkest, angriest, ‘meanest’, don’t-mess-with-me rain cloud you could imagine. I quickened my pace, but to no avail. Before I had even left the beach the heavens opened.
It poured, and poured, and poured. ‘Cloudburst’!
For just the briefest moment I was annoyed. And, then it suddenly dawned on me: As a latter-day Celt I was experiencing what others, other Celts ancient and otherwise, had experienced – and at that moment I suddenly felt ‘at one’ with them. I had thought about the ‘earthiness’ of the Celts, those who experienced the rawness and wildness of nature, and here I was, experiencing it to the full. A bit of a shock, initially, to experience it so literally and totally, but it was awesome. Mentally, my silent, inward prayer oscillated between, ‘Too much, Lord’, and ‘More, more.’
‘Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain, from the Lord who makes the storm clouds, and he will give them showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field.’ Zechariah 10:1. The Book
With no one around I just stood there, embracing the rain storm – and it was wonderful. I found that one can quickly pass through the uncomfortable drenched staged, and bask in a wonderful it’s-too-late-now-buddy-so-start-enjoying-it stage. And, I did. I was part of that raw and wild thing called nature, and would recommend that you make time to ‘commune with nature’ and the ‘One behind it all’, and experience life to the full, albeit a wet experience.
Heading back, some thirty minutes later – the storm had now passed – I passed a young couple who, having just woken up, looked as fresh as a daisy and with not a hair out of place. How do people manage that? Both of them looked at me from a short distance – wondering why I looked like the guy that had had a hundred gallons of water thrown at him, and puzzled by the smile on my face. It did occur to me that they may have thought I was a madman. Ofcourse, this is Britain, and so neither of them enquired about my state of extreme sogginess, but just nodded and raised their eyebrows in my direction to say ‘good-morning’, and I did the same, back.
So, here’s a question for you (ensuring your own safety, and desiring to experience something ‘inwardly’ that is positive): when was the last time you did something for a first time? (Or, the first time, for a long time?) If it was too long ago, then do pencil it in your diary to do it.