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September 9, 2016 / hbrowne4

El Hierro, Islas Canarias by Frank McGuinness

From a prompt: “The sea lapped gently against the shore……..”

The sea lapped gently against the shore. The shore was not impressed. Not on this occasion. Too often, too many times, in too many places had shores been gently caressed. Not here, not now, not in this place. Moonlight had so often glinted on wet stones and soft yielding sands but here there were no lovers, no solitary strollers with open hearts. El Hierro, the iron island, would meet fluid with fluid, red orange-crusted liquid rock with the playful and trusting waves.

This you watch from a distance. Not a great distance – just the off-shore hundred yards that furnishes or furnaces the kind of fear that rises out of the same abyss as the molten rock. Becoming visible only at the meeting place of fury, hissing fire, billowing steam, black acrid smoke. The observer knows a dreadful mirrored place in the heart, just at the surface of dread, terror and other unrecognisable emotions. Deeper than this, deeper than the place where this turbulent dragon rises up and becomes appallingly visible – nobody has ever been. Nobody has seen the abyss of the heart, or the earth, and survived.

Next time you walk barefoot in the moonlight, do not take for granted the relative stability of sand, the solidity of stones under your feet. Do not take for granted the familiarity of the heart, the commons of emotion, the “knowledge” of the self that you think you have. The philosopher who said “Man, know thyself” did not say this to satisfy a mind which already “knows” that it knows itself. The dragon of the heart slumbering in an unfathomable cavern awaits a stirring that might or will come in a distant future. That distant future could be now, as it is for El Hierro. There is a now for all distant futures. And perhaps all distant futures are here now? Make no mistake – if they are, you will know it.

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