There’s a tide licked bay which looks West towards the Hebrides. Filled with pink sand , and cupped in the hands of the high mountains. It’s soft warm breezes blow thousands of miles across open ocean, from the Caribbean, before whispering their tales through these trees. People have lived here since the mist first lifted away from the sea. Wave after wave have ‘discovered’ its gentle peace, and the Celtic monks named it Sanctuary, for six miles in all directions. Recently this beautifully carved sign has been placed to mark the Holy Well, which runs as fresh and sweet as ever.
The water springs, beneath dappled shade, from a tiny moss clothed arch in the hill. It tumbles full of laughter down towards the sea, through a sugar sprinkling of wild flowers. Passing beneath the single track road it spills back into the light and onto the salty shore through an ancient stone structure. Well worn steps have carried pilgrims feet thrice down and across the waters perhaps for a thousand years. The old iron hoop which held the chained drinking cup is still embedded in the stone, but the vessel itself is long gone. Now you need to take your three sips from your own cupped hands, but the water tastes as good and clear as it ever did. And remember to leave a blessing, a flower, a shell, or crystal or silver, in thanks of natures healing bounty.
If you follow the hillside path back towards Shore Road and its cluster of houses, you’ll pass another newly carved sign. Part of the seat of a stone built bench, this is a beautiful piece of local history in poetry. It is carved in Gaelic too, the language in which it was written, and it flows more beautifully in its mother tongue, but for the sake of the wider world I’m posting the English version. Written by a MacKenzie ancestor.
If you look behind and above you, while you rest in the hollow of the sanctuary, you will see the tall limbed trees reaching ever sunwards. Their slender trunks shimmering silver white against an achingly blue sky, like soft arms thrown heavenward in prayer. And the sky answered their prayers with vibrant green clothes, newly spun in spring. The ocean travelled breeze comes to rest, whispering through these delicate leaves, held cathedral high above our heads. It soothes and softens our bodies as we rest, hidden in the hollow, away from the demands of the world. Only the sky and the sea call for attention here among the silver trees. Rest for a while with me and just breathe, letting go of all the thoughts, coming back into the nature of your soft body among the trees.
Deep peace of the soft green earth to you,
Deep peace of the strong limbed trees to you,
Deep peace of the holy well to you,
Deep peace of the sun warmed breeze to you
Here in the hollow of the sanctuary, on the western edge of the earth.