by Steve Taylor
EMPTY PLACES (28th April 2007)
Today I walked through empty places. Places that once vibrated to the sound of happy children – the chatter of the women and discussions among the men as they lived, worked and toiled.
Standing below the now deserted houses by a small stream, shaded by ancient trees I could almost see children running, playing and calling to one another, as they had done for generations. But now all was silent. The peace and tranquillity were tangible – not just a normal quietness but a quietness that held within it a deep spirituality.
The name of the place is Screapadal, a small deserted township on the east coast of the Isle of Raasay – remote, beautiful ……… empty. This is a “clearance” township – its inhabitants driven from their homes many years ago by heartless landlords to make way for sheep – which they considered of much more value than their human tenants.
Only rarely do I experience such tranquility and silence – yet these times and places have some things in common. They are empty and far from anywhere, yet once sustained living, vibrant, abundant communities. It is as if these places have been saturated with a special kind of spiritual tranquillity – a tranquillity to be found nowhere else in the world.
After too short a time wandering and wondering among the deserted ruins, I retraced my steps along the path, which, for generations, the inhabitants of the croft houses I had just left behind must also have walked. As I did so a though slowly began to crystallise in my mind. God is drawn to emptiness! Perhaps that is why this place is so special. The trouble is though that the emptiness in our lives is not very often accompanied by tranquillity! Yet it is just in to such emptiness God is drawn, longing to bring His peace – His tranquillity. There is no doubt God is in Screapadal – even in its emptiness. There is no doubt also that God in our emptiness – longing for us to open ourselves to His peace.