A wooden cross stands above the square tower of our town church. As I drive down to the river which borders it the sky is gold in the afternoon sun. The cross stands out against the dazzling background.
Winter fields extend to the distant hills which enfold this lovely vale. Bare trees border the old road. Lush clumps of ivy, torn from some of them by the recent violent winds, sprawl on the verge. Today it’s fine and the air is still – wide skies and scattered, glowing white clouds.
I’m returning from lunch with a former colleague and friend I have known since the 1960s. We met today near a roaring dual carriageway, beneath a shopping centre where there was no escape from piped music, even in the lifts in the multi-storey car park – close to airborne walkways which take you nowhere that you want directly to go.
We have long given up trying to find a pub, in this concrete wilderness, where you can depend on a pint of beer being drinkable, so we queued at a café in the shopping ‘mall’ – and enjoyed our sausages, chips and baked beans, plus large cups of tea. I was hobbling with my stick and a friendly canteen worker helped us to our seats with our trays. People, people, all God’s children. In that wilderness where the glistening three- storey-high Christmas tree above Santa’s grotto would enchant any child.
It really was a delight but the pine needles were plastic, not more than a mile from the open fields through which I soon was to drive home.
My friend and I went our separate ways, he to the railway station and I to my car. I looked back. He plodded on, in pretty good shape for his years.
As I drove home into the afternoon sun I saw him again in my mind. And as that image returns to me I include all my friends, in that light.