Looking Up

With the promise of Spring everywhere here in England I look from my bedroom window to the distant hills and Psalm 121 comes to mind:  ‘I will lift up mine eyes …’

This blog began seven years ago with reflections on memory, as my WordPress ‘About’ entry says – looking back and trying to make sense of things.

This must be a work in progress but I do sense progress. And I trust that sense is being made.

Things are, I dare to say, looking up. As am I.

I am reluctant to end this blog but there may not be many postings in the style those who have responded to it have come to expect.  I fear self-parody and the effect of that on what I have put up so far.

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Picking Up The Pieces

For the past year I have been looking  back. The previous posts in this sequence have reflected, as I see them now,  intimations of immortality – to quote Wordsworth’s poem. I’ve just looked it up :

‘There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,

The earth, and every common sight,

To me did seem

Apparelled in celestial light,

The glory and the freshness of a dream.

It is not now as it hath been of yore;—

Turn wheresoe’er I may,

By night or day.

The things which I have seen I now can see no more.’

The scent of green  hedges in a deep Devonshire lane, the gushing of water from a nearby spring or the view of the sea from a gap in the hedge, recall for me now and from childhood, similar hints  and hopes.

But you can’t capture these hints – of heaven. They escape as you seek. Put them in a box and they die. They live though, now as a present memory, though many of them stem from infancy. And they carry the same hint, or hope. Or promise

For the past year my walks around Oxfordshire have been restricted because – to use modern jargon – of the mobility problems of old age.

But as hints of Spring show through in my garden and my elderly frame tries to wake up too,  I turn to the hints and promises of the  Gospels as well.

I don’t know where that will take these posts.

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Palm Sunday, 2017

Lleweton's Blog

Each year I welcome the long drifts of daffodils below our town cricket field, and I’m sad when they fade, all too soon, as they have now here in Oxfordshire. You can’t pin down the Spring, like a moth in a display cabinet. And yet, in the transience of Spring I sense eternity, elusive as the scent of the flowers of the season: elusive, but if those scents could be captured, caught and pinned down like the moth, eternity would be dead.

This has been perfect Palm Sunday weather, in England now. Easter next. This time of year tells of eternity. Life everlasting. A gentle breeze brings promise with it, and here in my garden the wind flowers bloom everywhere. I welcome these from their first appearance, tiny and shrinking in the January cold. They are blue. I call them wind flowers. They are a variety of an anemone, like…

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This is just to test

Have had trouble logging in after a long gap in posting. This just to test.

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Palm Sunday, 2017

Each year I welcome the long drifts of daffodils below our town cricket field, and I’m sad when they fade, all too soon, as they have now here in Oxfordshire. You can’t pin down the Spring, like a moth in a display cabinet. And yet, in the transience of Spring I sense eternity, elusive as the scent of the flowers of the season: elusive, but if those scents could be captured, caught and pinned down like the moth, eternity would be dead.

This has been perfect Palm Sunday weather, in England now. Easter next. This time of year tells of eternity. Life everlasting. A gentle breeze brings promise with it, and here in my garden the wind flowers bloom everywhere. I welcome these from their first appearance, tiny and shrinking in the January cold. They are blue. I call them wind flowers. They are a variety of an anemone, like the white wood anemones I remember from my childhood. Blue and gold go together, like the dial of a church clock.

The daffodils fade. I fade. I trust in the eternity which beckons, like the elusive scent of the flowers.

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Still Here

A quiet evening. Still not a cloud in the sky. Still the scent of the now-fading orange blossom. Another midsummer passing inexorably towards autumn. Still here. Still hoping that eternity is here.  The stump of the crab apple tree is burgeoning with new growth. In a few years it will produce its dark red flowers and fruit again. I doubt that I will be still here, in this garden, by this tree to see it. May all that is good in life, here and in eternity, still be HERE.

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Passing Traffic

Again, our town’s by-pass with its view of distant hills. At this time of year I love to wander out and take in the view. At one time I found that passing cars with young men in them would sometimes hurl abuse at me as they passed. I was on my own looking out at the Chilterns and enjoying the prospect. This seemed to be some sort of challenge to them.

Then I got even older and on one occasion fell over. A passing motorist stopped and helped me up and got me back on to safer ground holding up the traffic for me. It happened again and I was rescued again. Tonight I was resting with my stick, at peace, looking out across the fields, by a wall, as a driver pulled up and asked: ‘You all right?’

Yes, very much so, because of this human response. Thank you.

Maybe time to go home, I thought

Meanwhile the buddleia is coming into bloom – too soon after the Springtime’s lilac, so similar to look at.

The year moves on.

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Marking Time

Our town’s by-pass again: a clear evening, the hills in crisp view. Acres of oil seed rape are waiting to be harvested. Wimbledon is over again. The darker side of me thinks I might as well start writing my Christmas cards. Every Lent I love the time of the Cheltenham Festival, in March, with Spring and Summer to come, and the days to get lighter and longer. As I stood by the roadside tonight a lone estate car drove by, pulling a trailer piled with bales of straw. I think it must have been oil seed straw. Very soon the tractors will be harvesting our fields here. The year is moving on. Marking time. My hope is in ‘the still point of the turning world’.

 

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Two Images

Two images prevail in my mind tonight. One is a postcard which is on my windowsill. It is of the Lady Chapel of the 12th Century  Church of St Bartholomew the Great, in Smithfield in the City of London. I bought it there 55 years ago, when I was getting to know Mrs Llew.  I was a junior journalist on a trade journal, a long way, professionally, from the roaring presses of the national newspapers of Fleet Street, which were only a stone’s throw away. That church and its Lady Chapel were for me, at my stage in life, a place where the veil between the present and eternity is thin. I found guidance there. In old age tonight I find myself turning again to that battered, black and white postcard and my memory of the place. I remember my lunchtime visits there. And I find not only a comfort but a sense of certainty that, in Dame Julian’s words, ‘All shall be well’.

The other image is from my garden. It is overgrown, very much so. The red valerian and the cornflowers are turning to seed. The mint in the herb patch is lost in undergrowth of lemon balm. The roses are dropping. Everything needs a trim. Through my window, where the picture of the Lady Chapel is placed, I see a very tall foxglove. It is as tall as I am, about six feet. There are a few flowers at the top of the stalk but below it all the earlier flowers are turning to seed. It will fall over if I don’t cut it down soon. I’ll keep it as long as I can and it has roots. There will be many more flowers from that plant in future years. I hope that is true of me and Mrs Llew.

In the garden there is a sweet smell from the rain.

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Silence

I edit myself into silence. Perhaps I am not alone in old age in doing that. I’ve known so many approaching the end of their lives who keep their thoughts to themselves. They appear to be serene. I think that they are, like me, not serene. They are dealing, with dignity, with the stage they have reached. I wandered out tonight to look out at the fields and the hills a few miles away, under wide skies, with their scattering of clouds, blue-grey and white in the evening light. Heavy rain has left a scent of grass and herbs and sweet verdure. Cornflower and foxglove and raspberry bushes are full of bees. I don’t, or can’t walk, very far. I’ve nothing to say – or have I?  I love the perpetual return of Spring and Summer, even the  winter frosts and the spicy bite of the mists which hide the hills. The seasons return, for ever. I trust they symbolise something which is eternal and does not exist only in time.  Mrs Llew and I have been reading her diaries over her lifetime. What a busy life we had and how many seasons we lived through. I hope and trust that all the seasons of our lives will chime with a meaning and a blessed meaning which we cannot discern at this moment.

We have a young elder tree. It won’t flower this year but I hope we are both here to see it next June.

I said I edit myself out of existence. I  shall post this, even so,  and hope that it will speak for others at my stage of life.  I do trust that that all shall be well and our troubles resolved in the light of Eternity.

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