World views and something more
Last night, I went for a walk. Not down the usual road. I spiced it up and went down the other country road in the opposite direction, call me Magellan. My goodness the change of scenery did wonders and I am still marvelling at my own stupidity for not trying it sooner!
I shan't dwell on that though as I come bearing a different message. I set off in the late evening, still bright enough to fool you into thinking it was late afternoon. While on my walk, I passed luscious green fields, verdant from the recent rainfall; hedgerows bursting with wildflowers; a gentle stream flowing beneath a lazy humpback bridge and many farmhouses. A straight stretch of road brought me by a field full of cows. They must have been young heifers by their size and the way they jumped and skipped. Upon seeing them and feeling their gentle presence, I was immediately transported back to my Granny's farm. Here I would spend my childhood summers playing in the yard and building treehouses. Whenever the cows were in the shed behind the yard, Granny would bring my brother and I through the moaning metal sliding door to see them. I was always in awe of their size, slightly fearful of their large mouths but captivated by their swallowing brown eyes. Cows have gentle eyes. And beautiful long eyelashes. I remembered the sweet grassy smell of the silage that draped the countryside of west Clare. I remembered the feeling of coming back into the sitting room and throwing myself onto the couch after an afternoon of playing and exploring. The radio would be singing muffled ballads in the kitchen. Mostly my memories were related by the warm presence of my Granny's love. It's difficult to describe but she permeated every one of those experiences in a subtle way, by virtue of the fact of her being present in them or me simply being among her environment.
I have been missing my Granny a lot lately. She passed away in autumn 2017 and sometimes I find myself brought to stark realisation upon remembering that we won't spend another summer together. Its funny, but I find that every time I think of her and I am missing her dearly, I seem to get a kind of sign to show that everything is alright and she is still with me. I would not consider myself particularly religious but I am somewhat spiritual, and having taken a module in the psychological study of religion and spirituality, I can tentatively confirm that they are pretty much one in the same.
On my walk yesterday, I passed this particular herd and they came running over to me as I stopped by the wall separating them from me to take a photograph. Upon resuming my walk, I was stunned to watch the cows walking along with me, some adding the occasional jump or trot. They came from the farthest corners of the fields and walked with me until the hedge marked the end of their territory. It was a moving experience. Whether they were hungry or simply bored I will never know. But I do believe that the memories they evoked and the comfort that they brought while walking with me were instilled by something bigger than us.
Whether this resonates with you or seems completely airy fairy, that's cool! We simply have alternative world views as Scott Peck would say. A world view is our understanding of what life is about. Us humans are meaning making machines with innate impressions of causality (Daniel Kahneman). But there exists in all of us, even atheists, a need to develop a world view which subsequently informs our belief systems and behaviour. This is what allows us to grow. Scott Peck advocates for the need to comprehend religion, atheism and spirituality as the same general concepts within a 'world view' and as such, everyone has a 'religion' so to speak.
If you're ever missing someone who has passed on, perhaps try looking around. Chances are, they're closer than you think