Friday, September 11, 2015

What Am I Afraid Of.... A Dispatch From Scotland

White Sands Beach, Isle of Iona, Scotland

What Am I Afraid Of?
A Dispatch From Scotland
(For By Invitation Only)

The branch of the sweet gum tree bounced in the wind just outside our kitchen window.  For days my Mother and I had watched the robins come and go as they fed what was obviously a full nest of new babies.  I was little, I was fascinated, and I was bubbling over with curiosity.  I wanted to see inside that nest.  It was so easy for me to imagine fluffy yellow little birds, the sort that dipped and darted round Snow White as she skipped through the Disney forest.  Or the bright baby blue ones that helped dress Cinderella for the ball.   So finally, my Father took me outside and lifted me high in the air… up, up… to the nest of baby birds.  
No sooner were my eyes level with that nest then they were met with a 
scene so horrific I could only give that silent, Munch-like scream of the truly terrified.  Four hideous heads - if one could accurately call them heads, for they resembled nothing so recognizable to me - sprung up before me, sharply pointed mouths agape - squealing like spectres from hell itself .  These were not the birds of fairy tales, oh, no. These were creatures of Lovecraft and Poe and thus, this was the very first time I remember experiencing fear.  I did not like it one bit.  I still prefer to watch birds from a respectful distance.  

As I grew older I developed categories of fright.   Waterbugs and snakes were somewhere near the top of the list and invisible beings lurking beneath the bed rated highly.  Spiders were ranked according to size while sharks and horror movies, both terrifying, were both easy to avoid and were consequently regulated to the bottom of the list.   These were the frights of childhood, but as we clock more and more time here on Earth, those little scares and starts begin to coalesce into something more nebulous, more insidious and more internal - they become fear.

 To be human is to have known fear.  That grey shroud that cloaks the mind, erasing any hopeful feeling, deleting any comforting word.  It is the nadir of human emotion and we flee from it with justification.  But through the years I’ve come to realize that greatest thing I fear, is that very feeling of fear.  Roosevelt had it exactly right.   Rarely does the thing I fear equal the fear that I’ve felt anticipating it.   Even excruciating loss - so dreaded, so black -  has distilled into gratitude, bringing with it the comfort of memory and deep, abiding hope.  Crossing each and every frightful bridge has only given me a surer step.  Though, granted, it is difficult to remember this when that feeling of fear descends on the soul.

There are places on earth where the veil betwixt heaven and earth becomes sheer as gossamer.  I have stood in one such place this week, on the strange and holy white shores of the Isle of Iona, in the northwest of Scotland.  It was a luxury to ponder the question posed by this post in such a place as this for in this setting where the path between the ages seems clearly marked and beckoning I can see quite clearly that, at this point in my journey, the only real thing I truly fear is regret.  The ignored invitation, the shunned experience.

There were fat fluffy clouds in the blue, blue sky as I made my way along the path to the sea on Iona.  As I crossed a sheep-speckled meadow, I passed two elderly women going the opposite way and overheard one say to the other as she pointed to a blanket of bright sunlight illuminating the violet hues of the mountains across the sound on the Isle of Mull.  “See that?  That’s the pearl of great price.  You wait all day for a view like that and so many people just walk past and never notice”. 

A life half lived.
That’s what I’m afraid of.  So I notice.  I appreciate.  I am grateful.
 I hold both arms as wide open as I can to gather in all the beauty around me. 
 It’s there for all of us.
Find lots of other interesting takes on this topic HERE
And to see more of my Scottish journey, look HERE


  1. Pamela, your post reminded me of an old Scottish saying...." Aye, tis a gray day, but dinna he see the patch of blue! Loving your pictures as next Sept we plan a 4th trip to my favorite place also, this time the inner isles. Waveney at Glendoghal cottage

  2. Lovely, lovely. Thin places is what the Celtic Christians used to call these - places where the veil between heaven and earth is gossamer, as you've written so eloquently.

  3. Oh, yes, you've written so eloquently. It is a pearl just to be with you. To know you, and to see inside that beautiful heart of your's. The subject you chose for our group is certain to be a favorite for all of us. Coty wrote very similar thoughts, but expressed in a different way. Thank you, Pamela, our friend of the dogs. Amazing.

  4. Wonderful Pamela and I echo your sentiments.
    Have a fabulous trip and please get in touch if you come to London... I'd love to see you... xv

  5. And that I hope, Pamela, is the effect Iona has on so many people. Enjoy your stay - you are not a million miles from where I live.

  6. What a wonderful part of the world to reflect and perfect words and images for our BIO post this month.
    Regret and not making the most of each and every day is a true fear so we must make the most of every minute.
    Enjoy the rest of your time in Iona Pamela. XXXX

  7. Blue sky. You are blessed indeed !

  8. LUCKY YOU..........sounds DIVINE especially the part about walking through the meadow with SHEEP!I adore animals............
    HAVE A beautiful trip and I'm certain EDWARD awaits your return with a POUNDING HEART!

  9. So lucky you have been able to visit Iona - I've heard so much about it and the feelings it brings to the heart and mind.
    Enjoy the remainder of your trip Pamela - know this is your favorite place to be so continue gathering in all that beauty and peacefulness.
    Mary -

  10. Just gorgeous! Iona comes alive to me with your words! Great take on our topic. Safe travels.

  11. Lovely! Pamela you are indeed a jewel! Your talk of bugs, spiders etc, which I feared as a child, I now know that the beetle means and brings good luck! Oh how I wish I was in Scotland with you!

    The Arts by Karena
    Featuring India Hicks!

  12. Pamela,
    Your words describe in vivid detail any and all topics you address. I have never been to Scotland, I hope to one day. I loved your very uplifting take on fear...a nice way to view the very thing that can stop all of us in our tracks.
    Safe travels.

  13. Bellissima Riflessione.
    Sono stata in Scozia a 17 anni e ho un ricordo indelebile dei paesaggi.
    Bellissime Parole.
    Ciao a presto

  14. Oh Pamela, you have summed up what life is really about! Thank you, it is so important to embrace life, open your arms as you said, and let it all in, or you will miss it! No more fears, they block life! xxx Coty

  15. You needn't be afraid as you clearly live life fully realized and cherished. Lovely photo!

  16. What a beautiful story Pamela, really beautiful.


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