Country Pursuits

 When I headed out for my reflective walk today, I found myself among a large group of people out hunting. In  principle, I have no difficulty with the idea of people hunting and killing animals for food. But in practice, I know that few, if any, of these people out here with their guns and their dogs need this food to eat.

I wonder, even, how much of it does get eaten? It appears to be rather more of a sport for the ego, particularly the way the birds are deposited onto the bonnets of the 4x4 jeeps in some kind of machismo display.

I walk, and try not to let the hunters spoil my pleasure in this sunny and gorgeous, but cold, winters day.

As I walk through the trees, a live pheasant spots me and scuttles away. I prefer my pheasants this way.

I spot this frozen puddle, reflecting the near solstice, low in the sky, winter sun.

 The sky catches my eye. As I walk up the rise, for some inexplicable reason, I'm overwhelmed with the realisation that this beautiful world will be here long after I have gone. What will remain of me? My genes, passing down through my children. My essence, held by the people who knew me.

My grandmother comes strongly into my mind. She's dead at least 40 years, but in this moment she is alive and with me. I carry what she taught me, and I carry her essence with me.

I also become aware, not for the first time, that doing things and being busy is a wonderful foil against the empty feeling that arises in silence and space.

I realise, more strongly than ever, that I have spent a lifetime running from that emptiness. And yet, I also know, as I stand here staring at the sky, that it is precisely in the emptiness that a deeper mystery lies. A mystery that encompasses the infinity inside us, as well as the infinity radiating out.

This Christmas Season, I'm going to work at finding the space and silence, and sitting with the empty feelings that arise.