Elemental Beings, Our Changing Lives, and the Constancy of God - by SC Skillman

During a recent holiday in Cornwall, I emerged from our cottage to experience the magic of a luxuriant tropical garden very early in the morning. Inhaling the intense, fresh, green fragrance and the pure, wine-sweet air, I listened to the call of a wood-pigeon, and the sound of bubbling water in the nearby pool. Beyond the sparkling, dew-tipped leaves I saw a vast clear, light blue sky, stippled with white clouds, full of hope and freedom. Caressed by a cool, mild breeze, I gazed at the shafts of sunlight which lay across the dew-moist grass and the gravel path. The next morning it was different. Dampness hung in the air: an overcast sky and a heavy atmosphere lent the whole scene a dank brooding quality.  It led me to wonder once again at how profoundly our mood and our psychological state is conditioned by the atmosphere, environment and conditions around us.  We still found delightful things to do in Cornwall: the beaches were full of character even in this weather, and we had purposefully chosen to holiday there in mid September rather than the height of summer. But I realised that now I felt differently about those towering Gunnera plants, and those dripping, reaching, over-arching tree-ferns.  The same place in a darker, colder, damper atmosphere may seem threatening and overwhelming. It reminded me once again that, for good and for bad, we are elemental beings: sometimes ice, sometimes fluid, sometimes steam. I think of this as I watch the behaviour of people in this country, the UK, as we go though major changes such as Covid and Brexit: we find ourselves swamped by unexpected consequences, and I see how people instinctively behave when unforeseen events rise up like a tsunami, and how quickly chaos appears, when we cannot depend on strong direction from the top, or upon visionary leadership. I find it helpful to think of ourselves as elemental beings. Although this may seem a far cry from the earlier observations in this post, the first time I heard humans described in this way was when I read the book Auschwitz by Laurence Rees. Here we have an account of the very worst we can imagine of human behaviour. For the TV series and the book, Rees gathered testimonies from bystanders, perpetrators and victims, including revealing interviews with SS men and sundry European Fascists. It’s in this broad range of testimonies that Rees offers us a profound insight into human nature. On page 261, Rees considers why so many went along with the horrors of the regime, and speculates that human nature is “elemental” – the realisation came in the camps that human beings resemble elements that are changeable according to temperature. Just as water exists as water only within a certain temperature range and is steam or ice in others, so human beings can become different people according to extremes of circumstance. Rees makes the point that this is more than just the seemingly banal comment that human beings alter their behaviour according to circumstance… it is less a change in behaviour… and more a change in essential character. This may explain why people are capable of becoming enemies to those they had lived alongside the day before. I remember, too, that one of the most powerful central images of the Christian faith is the constancy and reliability of Jesus Christ:  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35) I am the way and the truth and the life. (John 14:6) He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1: 17 When life is unstable, Jesus is the only constant. Here is a helpful blog post on the Constancy of God.    SC Skillman writes psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction and non-fiction. She is the author of two novels, Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit, and one non-fiction book, Perilous Path: a writer's journey, all published by Luminarie. Her latest book Paranormal Warwickshire was published in November 2020 by Amberley. Her next book Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire will be out from Amberley in 2021, and her third novel Director's Cut is now out on submission to publishers.
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