“We need a light which has retained its kinship with the darkness.”
“The light in Celtic consciousness is a penumbral light.”

(Two quotes from John O’Donohue’s book, Anam Cara.)

Out of three days in Skye we had one day of gorgeous autumn sunshine, where the only conclusion you could reach was that this was the most beautiful, glorious place on earth; one of torrential rain, where you could pretty much only conclude the opposite; and one of low mist, where it was only by ducking down to the shore, down from the moorlands and hilltops that you could see what was there to be seen.

(A weather pattern that is pretty much par for the course on the island, but that’s a whole other story.)

Seeing a place like Talisker in the mist was a new experience for me – previously I’d headed for the beach on warm and sunny days, to take advantage of the flat black rocks and the chance for a dip in the sea (yes, it is possible, some days!) but this time I was set on standing by the sea and reading some out loud poetry.

And the mist, of course, revealed the spirit of the place in a totally different light.

The misty day wove together with the words I’d been reading about this dark/light feature of the Celtic consciousness, and the value of obliqueness (in our gaze, in our writing, in our kindness, in our friendship) that Donohue captures so beautifully in the book.

It took me to this journal entry that I thought I’d share with you here.


how would it be to allow for knowing
and not knowing:
allowing room
for the mystery
of creating
to be able to wonder
without needing to understand everything
to trust in the process
to trust in love
to trust in the mystery and wonder
of the universe
that beats softly wildly
all round about us,
that is hidden
in the mists
in the clouds and the rain
in the wind blowing and the rain lashing down on your window,
reminding you
that this is where you are,
on the island,
at the edge,
in a place of finding
and refinding,
and remembering
to remember
the feel of the mist, wind and rain.


Something I guess we’re always needing reminders to remember.

This is another post in the Skye series. Last post tomorrow.

PS In case you, like me, need to check the definition of penumbral, here it is:

1. A partial shadow, as in an eclipse, between regions of complete shadow and complete illumination.
2. The grayish outer part of a sunspot.
3. An area in which something exists to a lesser or uncertain degree:

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