This is the Peace garden at The Friars, an ancient Carmelite Priory in Aylesford, Kent. I have often sat in this garden and left through those doors with a perspective far different from the one I came in with. For me, it’s one of those special places we all have, where we find balance, sanity and direction.
This dead tree always looks like a sentinel standing at the entrance of the barley fields. Whenever I pass it on my way to the woods on the right of this image, the old soldier in me wants to salute it. I love these fields which have produced crops and harvests year after year. They together with the skies of Kent give me a wonderful sense of spaciousness and freedom.
This morning I stopped alongside a fence and listened to a horse grazing in the field. It was a beautiful sound, breathy and hollow with an echoing kind of chomp, punctuated now and then by the slight sound of the grinding of teeth. It was a lovely moment and I was transported back to some of the words of a favourite poem of mine, “The Listeners” by Walter de La Mare:
This morning’s walk:
The soft morning sunlight has this unassuming power to gladden the heart of things and to call them forth into the confidence of a new day. It’s not a glaring light shaking us into forceful wakefulness, but a gentle one, introducing and revealing the day with poise and with grace.
The other day I took our little dog for his daily walk. As I made my way through our neighbourhood, I was suddenly greeted by the lovely aroma of woodsmoke. Some past residue of my Southern Hemisphere mindset found this rather mystifying – what does Christmas have in common with woodsmoke? Then, in a flash – but I’m in the cold English countryside and not only are the homes I’m passing filled with Christmas decoration, but also with, in some cases, burning fires in the lounges. I heard Forrest Gump gently whisper into my ear, “Christmas and woodsmoke, they ‘is’ like peas and carrots.”
This morning I walked over to our village shop to buy milk and a newspaper. I pushed the door open and the owner smiled and greeted me by name. It’s a good thing to have your name spoken through a smile, so I smiled back and greeted him by name and wondered if he felt the same as I did. A smile and your name always goes a long way in affirming again your right to be here.
On getting home, I sat down with a hot cup of coffee, opened my newspaper, left the small world of village life and plunged into the vast sphere of politics, social happenings and intrigue. I didn’t like what I saw.