I live in a mountain village eleven hundred meters above sea level. To the South I can see the Mediterranean, reminiscent of so many historical events important to the world. The countries that surround its waters have spawned the foundations of the three Abrahamic religions; the philosophical debates of Ancient Greece; great poets and musicians, and several stunning archaeological finds. The waves of the Mediterranean resound with the clashing swords of pirates, the prayers of pilgrims, and the distress of the shipwrecked. If I gaze across the sea at night I can make out the lights of tankers and cruise ships. The lights of towns on the coast sparkle like jewels on black velvet and the lighthouse beams its protective ray at regular intervals.
The view to the North is utterly different. The Sierra Nevada mountain range fills me with awe as I gaze at its majestic grace. At this time of year it is covered in snow which shines, luminescent, on nights of the full moon like tonight.
The mountain range on which I live runs between the Sierra Nevada and the coastline, for most of the winter we lie beneath the snowline but the past two years have been exceptional. Just two nights ago I was driving back from Granada, which lies behind the Sierra Nevada, when it began raining in torrents. This was really an occasion for joy as we are experiencing a drought at present, but driving up mountain roads when the rain is pouring off the sides, bringing down soil and stones, is not fun; especially when a small skid can take you over the edge to certain death.
Worse was to come as we drove higher and the rain became snow, and then even higher where the snow was settling fast and the bends become more frequent and difficult until finally the wheels of the car were spinning, no longer able to grip, and the car got stuck, luckily against the mountain side and not on the edge.
After fruitless attempts to clear the snow with nothing but our hands and feet, two men in a 4×4 stopped and helped. They pulled the car out and we began the descent back to the hotel-in-the-middle-of-nowhere that we had recently passed. Once safe, after a good meal and a hot drink, I went out to view the landscape. It was stunningly dramatic: mountains, cork oaks, all bearing their mantle of thick, white snow with dignity and inviting me to partake in their aura of shelter and wellbeing. As I gave thanks for our safety I was reminded of the words in the Quran that ‘over every soul there is a watcher.’