Albion, ancient sites, Art

Seeing the detail

Glaston weekend 100

“Odd, isn’t it, that the extreme and unusual lives lead here.”

“Remember that saying in the bible about God spitting out the lukewarm?”

“Yes… I was just thinking… not so odd perhaps.”

“The safe path leads one to safe pastures, but not to the heights of spiritual truth. Mountain goats disport themselves in the most unlikely places.”

“To live with passion opens us to a whole spectrum of things… at both ends of the human-divine scales.”

“And sometimes the lives that seem to be of the crash-and-burn variety to those of us who are looking on from the outside are really spiritual successes, seen from within. We can’t judge – not really. But we can judge whether or not a path would be right for us, and step aside from those that would take us to inappropriate places.”


“In the blackness of space, stars are but a tiny twinkle. Imagine they represent personal achievements. Now consider our sun – to some in the universe, it would just be a little glimmer. For others, however, our sun is a giant giver of life. Achievements are purely a matter of perspective.”


“It’s like kids playing Tig… they pass the lurgy along to get rid of it.. free themselves… Tig, you’re It… and they are free.”


Walking through Glastonbury on Sunday morning after the ascent of the Tor we could not help but notice the details. Tiny things, insignificant… yet they stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. Awareness, once woken, changes the way we see the world, bringing life and colour into vivid detail.

We had walked that way before… many times.. yet fossils in walls, small sculptures, tiny blossoms… all stood out like excited puppies, wagging their tails and shouting look at me!

We found the same phenomenon, Stuart and I when we started the journey that led to our writing The Initiate… the more you look with awareness, the more you see. Sounds obvious, yes?

Take a very small, simple chapel, probably no bigger than the room in which you are sitting. Go over it with a fine-tooth comb, looking closely at the details of the structure, the artwork, the windows and carvings…. do it not once, but many times. You would think that small place would reveal its details all at once… or maybe within a few times… but no. It doesn’t. It only reveals what you are able to see… and you are only able to see what you are ready to see. It isn’t just a question of looking with attention.

Yet once you see the detail in one place, you begin to notice it in others. Over and over we returned to places we thought we knew well, armed with deeper understanding, more knowledge, eyes open to new possibilities of discovery… we were amazed by how much we had missed in our blinkered ignorance.

It is a lot like reading a book. You pick up a book and read… maybe on a crowded bus where there are distractions and noise, where you keep half an eye on the journey waiting for your bus-stop. You follow the story and could give a good resume of it to a friend. Yet pick up that same book and read curled in comfort and silence and you will no longer be skimming the words but will find yourself engrossed in the story and learn to understand the characters. You may go back and re-read the chapters you read on the bus… and find much detail you had missed.

You may read the words and take in their import without tasting their music and poetry. You may drink in their sense but miss their essence. You may understand the words but lack the knowledge that brings the subject to life for you. Go back with the knowledge and understanding of the subject and the text will unfold for you in a whole new way.

Seeing is like that too. It wasn’t till I uploaded the photograph above that I noticed the oak leaf… and that changed my understanding of the strange creature carved in stone. You can see everything… but until your awareness is primed you may not notice things that become perfectly obvious at a later date when greater knowledge and understanding allow you to see with fresh eyes. And once you begin to see with that depth of detail the world looks an entirely different place.

Sometimes the catalyst may be another’s awareness shedding light on what you see or how you perceive it, sometimes it is a change in your own inner perspective, perception lit by the spotlight of understanding. It seems incredible then to look at something you thought you knew well and find how much you have missed.

I began this post with snippets of three recent conversations with people I love dearly, all of which hold multiple layers of meaning. Even taken out of context there is much to see in them. They will speak to each differently.

My son, of course, wrote the second. He is currently doing something that would count as an incredible achievement from any perspective. I may have mentioned I am rather proud of him.

The first speaks of the way we see things, glossed over by our own preconceived ideas…which may, after all, illuminate nothing but ourselves, not that which we look at from the outside. It speaks too of living with passion.. with inner fire… and that brings awareness in its wake.

The last… was a gift. A simple phrase that has turned a preconception on its head and opened a door to a freedom I thought never to find, blowing away the leaf-litter of accumulated grief and allowing compassion to take its true place untrammelled by questions and fears.

And sometimes that is all it takes… a detail..a word, a phrase… and awareness is able to open to new concepts and possibilities hitherto unnoticed come into being within our personal reality.

There are so many things we do not believe in and so cannot see… it is not really the other way round. Once we suspend disbelief we can see many things that have lain there waiting for us to discover them and once we are open to the world of possibilities, living with hearts ablaze and leave the safe pastures of our accustomed normality we may find wonders waiting around every corner…even a fire breathing dragon … it all depends on what we are ready to see.


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