Some time ago, I took a photo of a plaque on a park bench in Glasgow. It said simply, “Express Love Clearly”. I entitled the photo “good advice” and squirrelled it away for an occasion when it seemed right to share it on my blog. I was struck by how un-Scottish the sentiment seemed to be – the Scots are a reserved people, generally speaking. And I felt strongly that this is the most important thing: to express love clearly.
I wanted to share that photo with you today, but it seems to have disappeared entirely from my computer. So instead, I’m using a photo of the Peace Rose in our old garden in Aberdeen:
Since the attacks in Paris last weekend, many people have been affirming that we must respond with love rather than hate. I believe this is true, and I’ve told the Dafter that this is one thing I do find encouraging. Generally, though, this has been a hard time.
In my own little life, it’s been just a year now since my Dad died, and I have been missing him. One lovely man I know has been given a year to live; a cousin of Michael’s is fighting for his life at 45 and with a young son; and I’ll be travelling back to Aberdeen tomorrow for the funeral of a friend not much older than me. I saw her in July and she seemed in the pink, as usual the epitome of the phrase “full of life”. I don’t know if she had an inkling that she might not be long for this world. When I asked her how she was, there was a fractional hesitation before “Fine! Yeah, fine.” I chalked this up to the kinds of niggling health worries that people have, and we caught up on everything else.
She asked me about the children; she sent them Christmas presents and cards every year, even though they were ages 22 and 16 last Christmas, and I’d told her she really didn’t need to. When I told her how well Our Son was doing, she – who had witnessed our years of struggle to get him proper care – said to me, “You did well there, Christine.” I protested that it was really only by the grace of God we had managed as well as we did, and she gently insisted, “No – you did well.” Did she know, at some level, that this would be the last time we’d see each other? In any case, it was characteristically generous of her.
Last night I went to Liturgical Choir practice and as usual it helped me to affirm my own beliefs that the light will, in the end, conquer the darkness. The Dafter’s illness has already taught me much about not taking life for granted. These recent events, close to me and far away, are a reminder that I need to treasure every day, and everyone in my life.
I don’t know why that photo has mysteriously disappeared. But its words have been in my heart for some time: “Express Love Clearly”. Excellent advice in hard times and in good.