mirrorshard: (The Book of Rainbows)
Of all the aspects of Christmas, the religious one is the only one I seem to be really comfortable with this year. Not that I've been indulging in a great deal of even that, and I still have a few grave theological reservations to work through, but it's the one sense in which I can feel any of the Christmas spirit.

I've been out for a walk with Himself, one of the same aimless, undirected walks that have always been a comfort and a reassurance to me - from scampering around in the Essex woods as a child to long walks in wax jacket and wellingtons along sheep-trails and Roman roads in the uplands of Gwynedd, from night-time wanderings around the city and suburbs of York as a relief from hopeless, frustrating study to a quixotic, joyous walk with a heavy pack from Newport Pagnell back to Cranfield after the last bus had gone and I had only the sketchiest idea of the way back. From two hours enjoying the middle of summer in Central London to a walk back through Edinburgh at chucking-out time made painful and frustrating by disintegrating boots, from a stressed, panicky early-morning expedition to find a supermarket in Glasgow to a trip around Colchester to find a fast-food place still open on a Sunday evening. Fresh air, no walls around me, and sunlight or stars or sheltering cloud.

When I was in York, I used to think of a walk like that as an imram, after the voyage of St Brendan, a trip done for the sake of it without a destination in mind. It occurs to me that I've got out of the habit recently, but then that's partly the season for you. I've spent a lot of time travelling around these Isles in my life, back and forth, and every time I pass a station I want to get on a train. On the 7th of July, when I heard about the London bombings, the first thing I felt was blind rage that they could attack the Tube. Travelling, especially flying, gives me the same feeling as dancing does - no going back, no more second-guessing, do the task that comes to hand with all your heart. The imramha are a lot like that, that moment when you realise you've no idea where you are and no more than the foggiest idea which direction home is in, and you know you'll still get back somehow, and that you'll see new things and meet strangers on the road and have adventures.


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