Winter’s distant light bursts like an epiphany over Loch Voil and the Braes o’ Balquhidder. That luminant lathe cleaves off the fatigue of waking half a day and a world away. Brisk air rolls down the hills, the loch’s fresh water overflows the shores, and everywhere light takes shape. At dusk the sundering sun flings light into Voil’s mirror to send the shadows skyward. Such beauty lies down many a fold in the heart of Scotland, through narrows long forgotten and over hills graced only by the sun’s daily tread.
From Ireland long ago came a man of Christian raiment to the Braes o’ Balquhidder and the clandestine waters of Loch Voil. In those dark ages there were many hunters of light, and here Óengus of Tallaght felt the wisdom of the Celts’ thin spaces. He blessed the glen and gave the rest of his life to it, but standing in the loch’s verdurous breath I wonder if the inverse wasn’t the truth, that the glen blessed him, that the glen gave him the rest of his life. I can only know what it has given me — another link in an ineffable chain connecting me to something beyond the ken.