Back down from the mountain and back to life. The next mornings edition of the Jerusalem Post did not carry news of my adventure. No letters ever arrived thanking me for my contribution to peace in the Middle East. I just did a very wild, strange thing and then went back to work. Were there implications – at least something to be learned ? Yes. but they were cumulative and often difficult to recognize until later. Hearing voices and acting on visionary directives – readers ask, when will it all make sense? Actually, invaluable information was being imparted all along the way. We will look at this in more depth in future articles. But first, come with me on a trip to the Scotland.
In the fall of 1999, I spent a month in the UK. Half in Cornwall and the rest in Scotland. Friends were along for the Cornwall part and even having enjoyed the company now I needed to be alone – to get on about the real business that had brought me here. After dropping them at Heathrow in London I continued north to Scotland following a slim thread of an impression that had trailed me since my last visit to Israel. There, following the night on the mountain top, I had spent another afternoon with friends, Ray and Sharon at their office in Jerusalem. On the way out the door the receptionist mentioned people somehow connect with… really not much of anything. Just some people that had stopped by. Her words to me were than I should consider visiting them. Zing! I felt that peculiar buzz up my backbone that had always come when I had been directed by, “The Voice” I looked back at the woman but, having handed me an address and phone number, she had already moved on to the next bit of business on her desk. Like I always do – I tried to shake the feeling off. A year or more had elapsed since receiving this slimmest yet – thinnest of all directives to date. But circumstances finally conspired and here I was. Based on this small bit of information, I was driving through the British Midlands on my way to the intersection of two highways on Scotland’s north east coast.
Why this intersection? After leaving Ray and Sharron’s offices with their secretary’s note in my pocket, I’d studied maps of Scotland many times – and always my eyes were drawn to the confluence of two highways near the northeast coast. Not a town – apparently not even a place to stop. The intersection was my destination. I’d just have to go if I were to ever know what was supposed to happen next. I had called and stopped to say hello to the Scottish family whose name I carried in my wallet – that card from the receptionist in Jerusalem. They had welcomed me in and even offered a room for the night. Half way through what had turned into a very time consuming drive – their invitation was appreciated But friendly and hospitable as they had been – visiting strangers was clearly not why I had come all this way.
With the overnight stop, the drive still took most of the next day, long into the afternoon, as after leaving the M90 at Perth the road was two narrow lanes, often requiring drivers to slow as it passed through towns and small villages. Charming. Slow. Lots of interesting places to stop for an hour. But following that inner prompting I was headed for a spot on the map – for no evident reason, just a spot on the map that I felt a compulsion to reach without delay. I took the highway following the edge of the North Sea, skirting Aberdeen, following the A90 to Boddham, Peterhead and St. Fergus. North of Fergus I turned onto highway 9032 – a still narrower road. As I came to a stop sign at the intersection of 9032 and highway A98, I had arrived. Hopefully this was my final destination. But this was almost as far as my instructions would lead me.
This first part of the journey was over. Now I was to turn left – that’s all I felt that I knew. As I made that turn the feeling washed over me. Again, that sense of completion – as deep and satisfying and equally unexpected – just as had overcome me on the mountain. I knew that once again without being privy to even the simplest explanation – by simply surrendering to that faint call I was now enjoying the satisfaction of being exactly where I should be at exactly the right time. Having just entrained these thoughts – to my total amazement – within a mile of having turned I was treated to an absolute kaleidoscope of natural wonder. This was November and at these latitudes the sun had already drifted far south. But given the southerly angle of the highway and the sun, now low in the late afternoon – it’s light lent a vivid golden brilliance to a thick bank of billowing clouds on the horizon in front of me. Closer in, low, puffs of cloud were being blown, scudding across fields, alive with golden light. It had not rained all day but suddenly a dense flurry of snow fell as if suddenly flung from a bucket. Countless numbers of large flakes, wind driven and at an angle, down – right to left across my field of vision. From the right hand side of the road, as if on command, hundreds of white gulls rose from a winter bare field, moving in opposition – from the ground up, also angling right to left but upward, crossing – forming a cross of pure white. Birds and snow in such synchrony as to seem that they were a single, winged creature. I had the radio playing and it was at this very moment, this perfect moment that an anonymous BBC radio announcer in London chose to cue up the opening strains of Samuel Barber’s, Adagio in D-minor, a favorite of mine, but a rare selection. The timing defied chance. “Thank you” was all I could think to say. Over and over, “thank you”, as waves of gratitude rose in response to this display of beauty and thoughtfulness. From the inside, Love was beating at the gates of my heart. One day it would splinter the barriers that I had erected. But I was not yet ready.
Turing north again, driving now on country lanes too narrow to make good use of a center line I drove to the edge of a cliff at which point the little road dropped away. The hill was so steep that the pavement simply disappeared – dropping out from in front of me. Realizing that others drove this near vertical path daily, I edged to car forward committing to an uncertain relationship between gravity and traction, hoping the friction of the car tires would be the stronger of the two, At the bottom of the cliff heavy stones lined a narrow road against which ocean waves pounded relentlessly. And here, built with the cliff at its back and the ocean at its front doors was the tiny village of Pennan. The village was the setting for a film I’d seen years earlier in which Bert Lancaster and Peter Riegert were cast as captains of big oil come to buy the town all the land around. In the end, having been drawn in and redirected by the local population and magic of a this special place they gave up their plan – one leaving and one staying behind – each forever changed.
I knew why the producers had chosen this place. I could already sense and had seen the magic. Like all fan’s of the film, I stayed the night at the Pennan Hotel – the only one in town and even made a call from this little towns one red, public phone box – calling to another die-hard apprciatour’ of the movie – the phone booth being a feature in a comedic sketches throughout the story.
On the trip north I’d been paying close attention to the news, noting that this night was predicted to be the highlight of the annual, Leonid meteor shower. However, the weather was not good for stargazing. Already heavy clouds blocked any view of the heavens and even harsher winds and rain were predicted for the evening to come. Still… I was hopeful. After dinner and a drink in the hotel, bar I went to my room and read while waiting. Just as predicted the winds increased driving the rain against my window – at times with the force of handfuls of rocks. The Meteor shower was predicted to peak at 1 AM. As the time drew near I pulled on all the layers of clothing I’d brought and made my way downstairs, through a now darkened hotel into an even darker night.
The little village was deserted or so it seemed. And all who might be in residence were sleeping. Only a few lights far down the road glowing faintly from the occasional porch or store front. But this was a good thing for my purposes. I had come to watch for meteors so the darker the better. Even so, I walked as far from the villages faint glow as I could get – out to the end of the Harbor wall.
Being a fishing village Pennan boasted a particularly long and massive concrete wall – a single jetty arm ten feet wide and tall enough to protect a fleet of boats in the harbor from storm waves driven across ocean waters even at high tide. In spite of all those thousands of yards of concrete the waves crashed with such force that night that the wall shook under my feet. It occurred to me that if a rogue wave were to rise I’d be gone without trace. The though made me shiver from more than wind and cold. And it was cold. All my wool layers were not enough that night. But reaching the octagonal bulbous end of the jetty arm I stood my ground watching looking up into nothing but thick clouds and rain. Though it seemed longer I could not have been there for more than fifteen minute, maybe less by the time the cold was just too much for me and back to the hotel I went. When I got to my room I filled the small hand wash basin with the hottest of water and perching on the ledge sticking out from the wall that hid the plumbing. I did what I could to warm myself and stop my arms and shoulders from shivering.
Having suffered already, it was not without an effort that I gathered the courage to go back outside for a second look. I’m not really sure why I did. Weather reports agreed with the conditions right outside the window. It was were a terrible night! BBC forecasters had conferment that all of Brittan was in the grip of heavy storm with no expectation of a let up. But dressing again – in clothing more than damp, I made my way back out onto what now seemed an all too narrow concrete arm, pointing presumptuously into the face of an angry ocean. Again, thundering waves shook the jetty wall, some spilled over the top to be wind caught and driven skyward. That was enough for me. To be taken down by a cold ocean was no way to die.
I was just at the point of turning back when a hole opened in the clouds and from this portal five large meteors, each trailing thick tails of green fire, streaked toward to ground. They were so large and burning intensely hot and low that smoke trails were left lingering in the air long after the rocks had fallen or burned themselves out. Surrounding clouds were illuminated. Nothing short of totally entranced, I could not have imagined to hoped to see what now appeared above me. Though most were smaller, there was still the occasional smoke streaming streaker while smaller stones continued to fall, tens and dozens by the minute. Thankfully this does not happen often – what a shame it would be to become accustomed to such a wonder.
Soon after, heavy clouds closed over again and the storm drove me back to my hotel room and a second, hot water foot soak. Listening to weather news That next morning I learned that as predicted the storm had dashed all British astronomical hopes – no one, I was told, had seen a thing.