my soul is in the likeness

Stapafell, Iceland, photo by Christian Bickel

If I imagine my soul, as I do when I pray, it’s shaped like Stapafel. No change of place or religion can alter that. I lived beneath Stapafel from the hour I was born until I was sixteen. I’ve never seen it since, but that doesn’t matter. My soul is in the likeness of a jagged peak with a rock like a man standing on its summit, and snags of rock shaped like trolls along its spine. Screes defend it, although it’s not quite inaccessible if you know the way up.
~ Margaret Elphinstone
(The Sea Road)

13 thoughts on “my soul is in the likeness”

  1. It is fascinating to ponder how our soul and spirit is shaped by the land where we were born–and where we now live. The soil in my hometown is yellowish and smells pungent and awakens my heart when I breathe deeply. The soil here is redder and filled with peat and leaves and forest creatures. It’s good that our soul is not quite inaccessible if we know the way.

    1. It’s so true how the scents of a place can awaken our hearts. When I was little, in the car, even if I was asleep and doped up on Dramamine, I could always smell the salt air and knew when we were crossing the bridge over the canal and on to Cape Cod. And waking up the next morning to the smell of oatmeal slow-cooking on the old gas stove – Grandfather and I were the early birds. Thank you for stirring up some pleasant memories, Kathy!

  2. On doing a little research I learned that a scree is a mass of small loose stones covering a slope on a mountain and that the word is derived from the Old Norse term for landslide, skriða. Wondering how many of our spiritual journeys and soul searching quests have felt like climbing over broken rock fragments in order to stand on that solid jagged peak?

    1. You would have liked the hike Dima and I went on yesterday at Bear Mountain. We decided to leave the path entirely and hiked/rock-climbed up the face of the mountain, facing challenges as they came. It was thrilling and I’m happy to report that we’re alive and well. 🙂
      Also, your post made me think of Eastern Point Beach. I never feel my soul being hungry when I’m there, because it’s instantly full. 🙂

      1. From the picture you posted on Facebook it looks as if you did all that hiking and climbing in your sandals – yikes! What a breathtaking view you were rewarded with when you reached the top!

        Eastern Point Beach is a special place, a refuge and sanctuary full of happy memories. It fills me with joy to know that you grew up feeling the same way. 🙂

  3. I’ve really enjoyed reading the comments on this post. They’ve helped me get a deeper understanding of the quote and the picture. I’d never thought about spiritual journeys in quite this way, but I like the analogy about climbing over broken rock fragments to reach the solid peak.

    1. I’m happy the comments were helpful to you, Sheryl. When I read that paragraph in “The Sea Road,” it stopped me in my tracks as I turned the words over and over again in my mind. The perception and experience seemed so familiar, even though the time and place were so different.

  4. In April last year I discovered a small part of my soul when I visited the town of my birth, alone. Not totally alone, as my youngest son was with me, but alone in as much as I could spend time “feeling”, without adult interruptions….I discovered memories of my childhood still floating in the river on the outskirts of the town. It was so different, yet so familiar, and I felt a huge, welcoming hug from the town. It’s not Stapafel, but it was where my soul felt at peace.

    1. I love how you’ve described your soul place and how you felt when you were there, Joanne. It’s true how even though a place may change over the years we can often still feel the spirit of it many years later.

      Once my husband went back to see one of his early childhood homes and he couldn’t get over how small the “big” rock in the yard appeared now to his adult eyes! But he could still remember the perspective he had during those happy hours he spent playing on it with his brothers.

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