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by Ian Curtress

I love this stretch of coast, it can be bleak but also friendly.
It was several years since I last visited and I found a rocky path I had not noticed before.
The morning was superb, blue sky with the last remnants of mist allowing the warming sun to shine through.
The sea was calm with just an interesting shallow wave of foam every now and again. Good to be alive
The first part of the walk was easy with care and I had enjoyed many such paths, although this one I soon realised was not a path it was just the way the rocks had formed.
However, I decided to walk, scramble or climb as far as I could safely go.
I was fit, the weather was set fine and I was ready for a challenge. Not always a wise choice.
I was managing reasonably well for about half an hour when I paused to consider was it sensible to continue.
The rocks ahead were much larger and would require climbing rather than scrambling.
Then I noticed in the distance an unusual formation. A sort of plateau with an overhang almost like a canopy.
I know sometimes one can see what one wants to see but this really was interesting.
Predictably, curiosity got the better of me and I continued on.
It was half an hour later when I reached the plateau, exhausted and regretting my decision, aware that I had to retrace my steps after a rest.
It was a lovely setting, it caught the sun, was unusually smooth with a flat rock making an almost comfortable seat.
Enjoying this respite I looked up and under the canopy noticed it was a cave.
Once again curiosity got the better of me and wondered if I could get high enough to look in.There were rocks just below the entrance on which if I stood carefully I might just get my head just above and look in.
I achieved my aim, thinking how foolish I had been but managed to peer into the entrance.
I almost lost my grip with shock and frantically clutched the ledge!
I was peering at two weathered feet with long toe nails.
Two strong and welcome arms pulled me inside a surprisingly large and comfortable cave.
This strong tanned man with very long hair and amazingly wild beard had been a doctor.
Ten or more years ago he had lost his young Wife and had been having a terrible time trying to come to terms.
Friends were supportive and his patients also, but their sympathy was smothering him.
He said he understood the difference between Sympathy and Empathy.
Empathy is ‘I understand’ where Sympathy is ‘well at least……’
There were no “at leasts”. He was also doubting his faith.
The mental battle was destroying him and he came to this area to escape.
He had enjoyed so many happy times in the area with his Wife.
Suddenly, he said, I paid my hotel bill, left with the bedside bible and walked and climbed just as I had done to stumble upon this cave.
He soon found that learning to survive focussed his mind, the fruits of the sea were ample and with the bible for reading if required he knew such peace and contentment beyond belief.
He saw our place in the World in sharp relief, challenged an after life. Said he felt closer to his wife more than ever. Wherever you are or whatever you are doing he said, heaven is there if you open your eyes and open your heart
After such enlightened conversation I found I was reluctant to leave this Anchorite
He reaffirmed my values.
Needs are few. Wants, an unnecessary distraction
Don’t worry about the destination, enjoy the journey.
Just look around you.
Heaven is on Earth.