and treacherous black ice,
we here at the heart of England woke to heavy frost.
Some of us with the luxury of waking later than many,
woke to dazzling blue skies and that brilliant winter sun
that clarifies every detail so it seems freshly minted for you.
The park was especially beautiful.
( I know I think that every day,
but even gloomy days hold some unexpected loveliness).
Of course I hadn't taken my camera,
and hubby had left the house before me to go bowling,
so I had not been given the usual warning,
- "You'll be sorry if you don't take it."
(O.k. I do usually call it nagging, but you can see I need it).
I'm not sure my lens could have captured the full beauty of it all anyway.
Each leaf newly caught in the sun
had been rhine-stoned over with the finest diamante
and crisply finished to perfection.
And there were so many.
Each shape melded with the next
to make a solid garment for the earth;
at least while the frost seams hold to make them chain mail strong.
The bench in the lee of a tree could have been
a wide throne for the the Ice Queen.
Who else could sit upon such an ephemeral veil
of shimmering crystals without obliterating it?
Who else would have blood cold enough to try?
Enough for mere mortals to see it and move on,
benefiting from the sight of the ordinary made new.
So I walked on,
grateful, and glorying in the beauty of each new detail
assembled under the high blue sky,
with the low sun scrawling long shadows from the trees.
A hidden message, ever moving and changing, written on the earth.
No wonder the impressionists loaded their brushes
with the most vivid colours to capture this
secret, age-old, text.
Then with an inner jolt
I remembered those for whom this glory that I was reveling in
would simply mean more hardship.
Those sleeping in the doorways of the city,
or in some hidey-hole where they might feel a shred more safety or warmth.
I felt the familiar twinges of shame and guilt
that I can do nothing other than open my heart wide in prayer,
and at times my purse in a gesture of care.
Then I remembered that guilt is not productive,
but the offering of oneself is...
In each moment.
As fully as I can.
So joy, and pain, and the bringing together of the two
march on in the park with me, as in so many, many places.
The frost was already melting as the sun
searched out the corners.
The damp leaves
looking a little sad beside their white coated brothers.
Some still wearing on top of their autumn brown,
a fine ribbing along their veins;
a tracery of the glory that was fast fading.
P.S. The day after I posted this I got the Christmas appeal from the Salvation Army, who of course always offer help and shelter to the homeless. If you would like to make a gesture of care of your own contact can be made here http://www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/www_sa.nsf