We spent out honeymoon on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland. It was early June, well before the summer tourist season, and we rather got the impression that we might be the only visitors to the island. We spent a largely very lazy week, eating a lot of extremely tasty freshly caught poached salmon, and wandering through the brightly-coloured streets of Tobermory. We were slightly more ambitious on one day, however, when we thought it might be nice to hire mountain bikes and explore the whole island. It was a beautiful day: bright sunshine, blue sky with not a single cloud. It turned out that mountain biking was harder than it looked: I was too unfit to ride up the hills, and too scared to ride down them. But around the middle of the day, I puffed and panted my way to the top of the biggest hill on the island, we laid down the bikes, and then had a really good look around.
What we saw was utterly breathtaking. Just over the crest of the hill was a lake. There was no wind; the surface of the water was as still as glass, and bluer than the sky. A kestrel hung in the air, right above the centre of the lake, his reflection captured in the water.
I think we stood like that for about five minutes, in complete silence. I actually cried, it was so perfectly beautiful.
A really good photographer might dare to try and preserve such a moment in film. I tried, even though I’m no photographer. But the picture was nothing like the real thing – the sky and the water of a photograph were never going to be quite blue enough, the silence of a simple printed image could never be as silent as a windless hilltop. The beauty that we experienced in that moment was for that moment – we couldn’t preserve it, capture it, or keep it for later.
But what we could do was let it change us. We could let that moment of absolute overwhelming beauty become part of us. We could let it make our world bigger. We could make sure that when we made our way down the hillside and back into town, our faces were still radiant from our encounter with that glimpse of heaven.