I remove myself. I set myself apart and I seek sanctuary. For three precious days, I remove myself to the peace and flow of a community whose days follow a simpler and more peaceful pattern than is my normal pace. I give myself the gift of time and I walk the line of the river. I follow the light.

I wake early. This early autumn morning breaks gently, softly. The sun is low in the sky, shy to be seen but the birdcall is insistent and she responds to the call.

I am alone on this early autumn morning walk I take. It is my choice to be alone and I savour the gift I have given myself, this gift of time apart, this gift of sanctuary.

The light has risen, higher, but remains soft, dappled. It reaches me through the trees. Warm, on this early autumn morning that I walk the quiet of these warm, dappled woods.

The sun climbs higher. At full height now, the light she casts is clear and strong. I drink deeply of the colours that surround me. I am nourished by this deep, strong light that she casts. It fills me, deeply, and I pause to savour this gift that I have been given. This gift of time apart where I walk the line of the river, following the light.

The light is softening. I turn for home, retrace the steps that will take me back to this place I call home for the three days that I seek sanctuary. A breeze is blowing. A bird is calling. I remain alone as I retrace my steps. I am content to be alone; savouring the solitude, savouring the early afternoon sunlight of this early autumn afternoon.

I return to the place that I call home for these three days of time apart. I am ready now for refreshment and company; the nourishment of freshly prepared food that will recharge my body, the sharing of shared words that will replenish my soul.

I return to the river, later, as the sun dips below the horizon. As she prepares to leave my place of solitude, I watch as the dusk deepens, as the night begins to fall. The air is still now, the wind has eased. The sense of calmness, of connection, that I hoped would be mine when I sought this time apart, is all around me. The water flows, over rocks and under branches, a constant stream of forward movement. There is an owl, and one other bird whose call I do not recognise. I imagine deer in the woods opposite where I stand. The light is fading and I prepare to leave, prepare to return to the warmth of a warmer space. I am grateful. For the gift that this day, this light, this river has given me. I promise myself I will return tomorrow, for there are two precious days of sanctuary that remain, knowing that the nourishment that is the gift of this place is one that will nourish me for many weeks once I return to the pace of my normal pace.


This place that I take sanctuary is beside the River Esk in Dumfries and Galloway in southern Scotland.

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