The heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on a lonely hill. (Fiona Macleod) “You could expect many things of God at night when the campfire burned before the tents,” Beryl Markham wrote about the safari life. “You were alone when you sat and talked with the others—and they were alone… What you say has no ready ear but your own, and what you think is nothing except to yourself. The world is there and you are here–and these are the only poles, the only realities. You talk, but who listens? You listen, but who talks?” A safari of the self and the Spirit is at times lonely. But we know we are never alone. It is a comfort to realize that this sense of isolation is necessary if we are to encounter Mystery, and mystery is very much a part of a safari. Each day in the wilderness brings with it the struggle to survive and a heightened awareness of how wonderful it is just to see the sun set and rise again in the morning. Each day on the safari is lived to the fullest because it is all that is guaranteed.
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I have never been to a safari, but somewhere in my soul, there is a place like the safari that Beryl Markham describes in her book. I sometimes find myself in this safari residing in my soul. I do not understand why it draws me in despite the lonely darkness that fills it.
Maybe, just as Sarah Ban Breathnach believes, “this sense of isolation is necessary”. To be in the wilderness of one’s life is to recognize one’s need to survive, to search for a path that leads to safety and freedom. To be enveloped by lonely darkness is to yearn for the Light and the Joy that can sustain one’s existence.
No matter how lonely my life seems sometimes, my soul never dies; it thrives, stretching itself to reach the summit of its being. It knows that in the heart of darkness, its Creator sits, listening to the controlled and quiet sobbing of loneliness. It bears the hours of aloneness, knowing that, only then could it hear its Loving Keeper speak to soothe its hurts and allay its fears.
When I emerge from this sanctuary in my soul, I recognize the truth about me — I am part of the Mystery that is God. I cannot stop my heart from beating, cannot put my life on hold, cannot wither and waste away. God is Life itself.
As He lovingly keeps me in the hollow of His hand, life supports me; hope comes as naturally as rivers flow onto the sea; joy bursts as spontaneously as the rays of the sun bathe the world when it rises every morning.
My “heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on a lonely hill,” but most days, this lonely heart leaps with joy. There, on the lonely hill, is a warm campfire, where the Great Storyteller sits to tell stories of hope, of joy, of love. My heart patiently waits for my own story to be told.
For us who need the time to be away from the noise and busyness of our lives, Sarah wrote: “Today, expect many things as you sit around the campfire of your heart. Someone is listening. Someone is talking to you, encouraging you to take that next step as you embrace the Mystery of the wilderness within. Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again. “