30th June 2021

One of the things I’ve always loved about Bristol, is the many vantage points from which you can look out over the cityscape to the hills beyond.

Timothy Dudley-Smith’s “I lift my eyes to the quiet hills” echoes Psalm 121. What is it about lifting our eyes, about looking out at hills and mountains that can somehow move us? Taking in a beautiful view, every-day cares can sometimes recede a little, at least in the moment, and that can feel like a God given gift when it happens.

The tune and words of the hymn somehow capture a bit of this for me: “in the press of a busy day” the hills can point us to “a calm that is mine to share; secure and still in the Father’s will and kept by the Father’s care”.

There seems to be something about looking up, as well. Our use of language hints at this: “uplifting” and “on top of the moon” versus “downcast” or “down in the dumps”. I was intrigued to come across a Huffpost.com blog which referenced a therapist who sets an exercise for those with mild depression to count chimney pots! The theory, that looking upwards can have a positive impact on mood and that we can literally change the way we feel by the way we hold our bodies. I can’t imagine this offers any sort of panacea for all life’s ills, but it at least feels like an interesting concept to ponder.

Maybe it’s time to find a spot to gaze out on a hillside somewhere!

Ruth Allen