In those mid-teen years I had one of those last holidays as a family unit with parents and my younger brother. We were holidaying on the Isle of Skye, the largest island of the Inner Hebrides and it was the closest me and my brother had ever been to the far north of the UK. The island has mile upon mile of intricately meandering shorelines which reach out into the edges of the wild open of the Atlantic Ocean. And in venturing northwards we were travelling to a latitude equal to that of southern Norway, where summer days were longer and nights shorter than the rest of Britain. Our Dad, a Geography teacher, made sure that these facts were told, though we were were beginning to realise we could be more selective with what we chose to retain for our own minds.
The memories from that holiday are now mostly consigned to a few square faded instamatic photos, the sort that seemed to arbitrarily return from the developers with or without a white border. Dad also took a substantial bunch of slide photos so we could all compulsorily re-live our holiday memories several weeks later with a large screen, teacherly order being regularly barked at whichever child was fidgeting/distracted/bored.
On the island here, we are gaudily accentuated in our primary-coloured plastic showerproof tops against the otherwise deserted neutral-coloured landscape. Mercifully the coats also cover whatever ghastly fashion disasters lurked beneath. It is a slide shot by Dad which has been cropped and filtered to look like an instamatic photo via Instagram. Passage of time, trickery and all.
For some reason the half-board establishment that had been booked for the holiday only accommodated my parents and brother. I was dispatched at night time to sleep at another house probably no more than ½ a mile away. Not eminently memorable except for the one event.
There were only a couple of nights of the holiday remaining and I was awoken from my sleep by unfamiliar noises and someone speaking to me in my room. The lilting spoken accent of the lady of the house was broken by soft sobs, and she was shaking. Her husband had been taken ill at the wheel of his car, had been found dead by the police, and they had just now broken this news to her. In my sleepiness I eventually realised she was asking me put on some clothes, leave her home and walk to the Guest House where my parents and brother were sleeping.
In the wee small few hours when darkness was at its darkest.
Down a completely deserted road.
No street lights.
Ideally here I could tell you that I walked under the beautiful moonlight (from the title meaning bright moonlit night tonight), but in truth I have no idea. Up until now I had wandered along this road on an empty stomach, simply anticipating breakfast each morning and enjoying the fresh light or drizzle on my face.
In the darkness though I lugged a backpack laden with fear. Mouth-dry, heart noisily pumping, echoing thud, thud in my ears, the relentless pulse getting out of sync with the steps. Knocking and then banging with increasing panic on the door of the Guest House for what seemed like forever to get someone to answer and let me in.
A mattress and bedding were quickly located from somewhere and I lay down to complete what was left of the night’s sleep.
Although family holidays were coming to an end, that dark walk with or without the moonlight was itself a symbolic start of many things. Accompanied with the luggage we knowingly and unknowingly cart around with us.
Back and forth between:
the last vestiges of childhood and the cusp of adulthood
dependence and independence
sitting in church taught by others and hearing directly the things of God whispered by His still small voice
carefree joyfulness and care-full depression
songs, sung with repetitive, known familiarity and sung where fresh love is breathed between the words
Travelling not to the moon and back, but journeying to change.
The moon is just a tiny part of all of who You are, a speck of dust in the atmosphere. I now know that You, in Your faithfulness yet-to-be-known were watching me that night, Your beloved smidgen of creation, tentatively blossoming on the road.
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love
* The Scots seldom use this expression ‘braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht the nicht in reality’. Teachers use it to demonstrate the hard “ch” sound that is particular to the Scots language.
Jo Inglis is primarily a follower of Jesus, though may get distracted by an emotional attachment to her piano. She is mother of 3 (adult) children and currently lives with her husband and the semi-detached offspring in North West England. For 22 years they were a clergy family in different churches.
Jo is on the Worship Leading Team at a local church and is fond of Earl Grey Tea, photography and family history. She failed English A Level but overcame the shame and re-learned to love words in conjunction with all the Arts when studying for her Music degree. She has recently begun blogging at Purple Arabesque and likes to blog with words and images.
She can be followed on twitter @Piano_Jo