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Thursday, 26 January 2012

The stark beauty of scores of years

The Hill of Fare has disappeared behind damp drapery. In the foreground, trees denuded for winter twist their frames skyward, and for the first time I notice how graceful and strong many of those frameworks appear. 

I prefer the early frill of spring buds and new leaves. I love the lushness of summer foliage. I drink in the beauty of the autumn, leaves glorious and vibrant before falling to the ground to moulder and decay, leaving those bare branches stark against the sky. I’ve left it at that before. Endure the monochrome of winter before the sun begins to linger longer and tease the sap to rise, the leaves to bud.

But this morning was different. Shades of grey, black, brown and white – oh, and a very dark green – blend in a cold symphony of colourless tones. Cold, and yet breath-taking. Colourless, and yet there is richness and depth there, too. And the tangle of branches, usually hidden but now laid bare.

I appreciated the grace and strength of those branches reaching heavenwards. Three seasons out of four I am unaware of that grace and strength. 

In our youth-oriented culture, we are encouraged to appreciate the beauty of the three seasons of life which are full of colour, energy and vitality. And yet, what beauty there is in the old gnarled hand, which has worked and served for a few score years. What strength there is in the sinewy body, now reduced to a slow step aided by a cane, but which once brought pleasure and help to others. What wisdom and love are etched in each wrinkle on a wizened face.

Set off against the damp drapery, the strength of the stark trees was unmistakable. Do we fail to appreciate the beauty of age because we compare it to the beauty of youth, instead of appreciating it against the canvas of eternity? Many of our elderly friends will soon disappear behind that damp drapery into a wonderful eternal life, which remains hidden from view to us below.

May I encourage and love every older person I meet from now on, and learn life from one who has walked ahead of me.

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