I’ve just had a brisk, if wet, walk along the Thames path. There’s a
point at a bend in the path where you turn the corner to see, in spring
and summer particularly, a corridor of green stretching out in front of
you for at least a hundred yards. It must be something to do with the
wet summer but I’m told the turning of the leaves will be particularly
slow and beautiful this year as we head into winter.
Today, early November, ‘the tunnel’ was every shade of green into yellow
ochre – it was quite a feast for the eyes if I stopped long enough,
keen as I was to be hurrying along, to appreciate it. And soon they’ll
be ‘chopping down trees and putting up reindeer’ as the Joni Mitchell
song goes, and Christmas will be upon us again. I think our job, if we
can ‘hang in there’, is to welcome the season slowly and to be grateful
for the changes in our lives and the lives of those around us, however
fun or difficult, which the end of the year will bring.
Our lives tend to be so fragmentary these days – pitched into summer
before spring’s over, pitched into Christmas before we’ve seen the
leaves turn. We need to regularly stop and try to ‘join up the dots’ so
to speak. I’m in danger, for example, of forgetting the euphoria of
the election of America’s first mixed race president; quite a landmark,
whatever your politics. Back in the dark days following the
assassination of JFK, an American Jesuit wrote a book called ‘America is
Hard to Find’. This afternoon I was sitting at table with a couple of
parishioners and had been presented by their son with a hugely detailed
drawing of musketeers fighting the cardinal’s men, in a book called
‘Where’s Wally’. It proved to be beyond me; I couldn’t find Wally amidst
all that confusion – I needed longer to study the picture.
However long it takes this yuletide, I do hope you at least manage to
find glimpses of the Christ child; he comes to us so often in hidden
packages – wrapped up as something else. He surprises us, sometimes
with sorrow, sometimes by joy; all we have to do, like the rabbi said,
is to try to meet him half-way, try joining up the dots in our lives.