Mrs Llew and I have a very pleasant house up here. It has a fence all around and a view of the hills. Over the road the great bales of straw have been moved – and as I look across the fields I trust we may stay for a while and gather in a good harvest from our life together. I’m thankful for our elder daughter and her family a few miles to the west.
An old friend visited today who has travelled much of the past 40 years with us. He and I were young again as we rode out on our bikes and put the world to rights over a pub lunch and recalled old battles with the principalities and powers – or rather, the planning authorities of yesteryear. Ancient fires flared up in him as he raged against a ‘refurbished’ pub which shut its doors sharp at two – while we thought we were doing this struggling hostelry a favour in offering our custom.
The rain drenched us as we rode home but I felt younger.
My friend knows of the shadows and failures. Who does not have them? My friend also knows of our happiness and our successes. I once knew a priest who said to me that he did not believe someone who said at the end of life that he had no regrets. I have regrets about failures of love, of relationships and understanding. Again, who does not? But while there is life there is hope – and afterwards there is still hope.
A couple of months ago I glimpsed in a dream what seemed to be a part of a spider’s web shining in the frost. As I looked more closely I saw that the delicate tracery was in fact the rigging of a small ship, a sailing ship in the harbour. The harbour is within reach of here but I discern no call to go there yet. On that ship I saw an attractive woman, in her 30s, dark, shortish hair. She was looking at me in an intent, friendly way, with total concentration, as if she were looking into me. There was a warmth about her. I liked her. I felt secure.
Then I woke. I recall, as I write, going for a pleasure boat trip with my younger daughter off the Devon coast. The sea was very rough and the boat was in real danger. We should never have put out. We took shelter in Brixham harbour. For those who know me I think this was the holiday of my mother’s sausage rolls.
I pray that my family and I in our turn will board the shining ship I saw in my dream.
I pray we will be greeted by an angel.