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Holiday perspectives

News St Martin – Talking Points

Friday 23 August 2013

I spent some time this summer doing what one is meant to do on holiday, but which I normally don’t – i.e., relaxing. I read several books sitting by a swimming pool.

This pool is interesting, built into ruins on the side of a hill with far-reaching views. French law however, requires it to be surrounded by railings. So, sitting down, you can only see the view through the bars of the railings – and only one, the bars or the view, can be in sharp focus at any one time.

My first, not-very-original, observation is how often do we just focus on the bars (the short-term, the things that constrict us), rather than on the view (the possibilities of the future)? The beauty of God’s creation, and the luxury of some time to focus on things beyond the short-term, can inspire us and liberate us.

My second observation comes from one of the books that I read. The Garden of Evening Mists involves the creation of a formal Japanese garden. In such a garden the skilful gardener does not assault the senses with an overwhelming panorama, but with glimpses of beauty through narrow, strategic vistas. It struck me that perhaps it was not a question of focussing on the view rather than the railings, but seeing the landscape more intensely because of those bars.

It’s not that we need short-term pain to appreciate long-term gain. It’s more perhaps what St Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5 – living in our earthly tent but groaning to be clothed in our heavenly dwelling. Only in the context of our current human condition – the bars – can we appreciate the true beauty and majesty of God’s eternal promise – the far-distant view. Only with both railings and view can we glimpse, perceive what truly lies ahead.

Revd Will Morris