Is this the last summer’s afternoon of the year? I’m sitting enjoying our fabulous garden, but I’ve also just stashed away the outdoor furniture in the summerhouse and boxed up the solar lights which have gladdened our evenings. And a mood of elegy comes upon me. Perhaps every sixty-something year old becomes more conscious of the seasons running away with them, and with the years too.
There’s more though. It feels a bit like what I imagine the time just before the war met have felt like, only now it is not war that threatens, though heaven knows there is enough of it about, but a sickening in society itself. (I said I was having an elegiac moment.)
New Scientist this week chronicles in its usual brute-facts style the threat of a massive El Niño event, the erosion of our soil’s so long-built fertility, and a worrying catalogue of measures taken or not taken in recent months in the UK which threaten our credibility as a nation tackling climate change seriously. Why are we so bewitched by the short-term, so blase about the long?
Then the news, formal and from friends, confronts me too with the terrible things we do to each other even close to home, never mind to so-called enemies. To children and vulnerable adults. To those whose brains or bodies are made differently than ours. To the poor among us. To those who who simply get in our way. Why are our foot-soles so calloused, and our heart-souls too, that even the challenge can come as an uncomfortable shock?
God grant us grace to lament in this age of celebration, and that each of us in our time in our own way may find the grace and the guts to make sure every one can enjoy the garden for a long time to come. Beginning with me.
And thank God for the irrepressible shouts and laughter of people at play just a street away lightens my heart again and makes me grateful again for the life and loveliness all around.