All Things Low!
Most of us, I guess, like visiting high places (mobility allowing) such as a mountain, church tower or great bridge – anywhere with far-reaching views. Lofty places inspire us.
Hebrew-Jewish culture, the Bible shows us, also favoured high locations. They were widely regarded as places of communion and enlightenment.
But what about low places? Such as the Dead Sea, with its host of Biblical associations, and truly unforgettable, especially if you’ve had the fun of floating in its ultra saline water.
The great ocean depths – still largely unexplored – contain myriad extraordinary creatures, some of exquisite beauty and all witnessing to the unfathomable wonder of Creation.
Low places can be highly productive in terms of human need, if not greed. Lead, copper, diamonds, gold, tungsten and lithium are all mined from the Earth’s crust, some from deep within it. Other subterranean places – like Cheddar or Blue John – offer wonder and delight and are of spiritual value.
Some inspiring low places are the product of human ingenuity and effort. Like the new Elizabeth Line crossing London and already benefiting millions of people in their going out and coming in. A fantastic feat of engineering and of human endeavour, it’s surely an awesome low phenomenon.
Deep sounds, too, can make us marvel whether its the rumble of a communicating elephant or the blast of a massive organ’s pedal notes reverberating round a great cathedral.
Interestingly, the Bible has the same imbalance between high and low awareness as we generally do now. While popular culture revered the high and mighty, prophets, preachers and writers of both Hebrew and Christian scriptures – and Jesus supremely – championed the lowly.
Bible writers habitually associated low places with evil and death, Sheol beneath being the abode of the dead. More helpfully, however, the Bible quite often refers to low feelings. Throughout the thousand years and more it straddles, we find people who are sad, distraught, despairing. As in the Book of Lamentations or the Psalms (‘From the depths I call to you, Lord!’). Or in the New Testament where Jesus accepted and offered healing to people with all sorts of low feelings. And people in those far off days weren’t afraid to admit and share their depression.
Let’s be thankful for low features like low places and sounds. And let’s look low feelings in the face, willing to share our own as well as being alert to those who may be bottling them up and needing our sensitive, loving care…
Revd Edward Hulme