Ireland’s Covid cases have skyrocketed in the last few days and we are headed for a heavy lockdown – due to be announced in a few minutes.
The world feels shaky and fragile in so many ways but today I glimpsed hope under the bare Hydrangea by our garden gate. A clump of darling snowdrops smiled up at me with their fresh green leaves and tiny buds showing white. If ever there was a brave, resilient flower, the snowdrop has to be the winner. Just seeing this beauty emerging from the sodden ground made everything seem so much brighter and it was as if hope had come to rescue a bad situation. Nature has such a precious heart.
Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know what despair is; then winter should have meaning for you.
I did not expect to survive, earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect to waken again, to feel in damp earth my body able to respond again, remembering after so long how to open again in the cold light of earliest spring–
afraid, yes, but among you again crying yes risk joy
December 21st is a major day on my calendar because it marks the end of the dark, dark days of the year. Today in Ireland, sunrise was at 8.32am and sunset at 4.20pm. Last light is at 5.01 – that’s just in 12 minutes time, as I write.
It’s like nature knew today was Winter Solstice. The sun didn’t bother to come out and the clouds were almost touching the ground. But, my precious sea was showing white with lovely fluffy waves and the bulbs that I planted in hope back a few months ago seemed to spring up overnight as it knowing that their time is fast arriving.
I usually make a pilgrimage to one of out local dolmens on December 21 to celebrate the day but my sprained ankle is still restricting me in terms of walking on anything but the most even of even ground.
However, I am at the local dolmens in spirit and remembering times when we lived near Newgrange in Co. Meath, which is such a special place for Winter Solstice people.
It’s been a dark year with the pandemic hanging over us all and we still have a good deal to Winter out but there IS light ahead if we remain patient and treasure every little glimmer along the way.
I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. (Og Mandino)
One of my favourite occupations is deadheading flowers in the garden and seeing all the new growth beneath. It always gives me hope and connects me to a lifetime of being in the garden.
Part of deadheading in December is having red-breasted robins for company and being able to see birds on the bare branches.
I often think that we, as people, could probably do with some deadheading betimes to ensure that we are able to thrive and realise our potential.
I’ve been pondering what such deadheading might look like and have come to the conclusion that it may well be as simple as the short spells in the garden or even a passing pinch of a single old viola bloom as I head out the gate. So, here’s a few examples of human deadheading that work for me:
#1. Going for a brisk walk, preferably by the sea or along a riverbank;
#2. Soaking in a warm bath;
#3. Getting carried away by a beautifully shot film;
#4. Dancing madly around the kitchen to old fashioned Rock n’ Roll;
#5. Seeing swans in full flight
#6. Sharing a laugh that feels like it will never end;
Irish eyes are smiling more than ever at the moment as we are learning to live with masks and face coverings.
Eyes can say so much. They undoubtedly are windows to the heart.
More than ever, we need to work at the coming together of gentle gazes, filled with empathy and kindness. Also, the gaze needs to be a collective one in which we all look at what we can do as individuals, families, communities, counties, countries … to help reduce the conditions in which Covid spreads and also the extent to which lives and livelihoods are impacted.
If ever there was a time when each individual’s every action counts, this is it.
Hope is beyond important and I sometimes wonder what it looks like.
I got a glimpse this morning as I saw the rapture of the dogs greeting the day. They tore out towards the backdoor but the oldest one hesitated for a split second and melted my eyes with his with a glance of love and gratitude. I headed into the kitchen with warmth in my heart and hope for the day ahead.
Ireland was given an injection of hope this week when two young paddle-boarders who had been missing at sea for fifteen hours were found safe and well.
It has been deemed the ‘good news story’ of 2020, as the two young women, aged 17 and 23, were swept out from a beach in the West of Ireland at evening time and were caught in a storm with high winds, heavy rain, crashing waves and thunder and lightening.
The pair, who are first cousins, were wearing just their swimming togs but crucially had life jackets on. They kept their heads, stayed calm, acted smart by tying their boards together and eventually to a lobster pot.
There was a massive sea search with all parts of the rescue services, fishing community and local groups coming together.
The country waited and waited, finding it hard to cling to hope, with each passing hour, but at last we heard they were safe and there has been an outpouring of absolute joy.
Like all countries, we needed to see a glimmer of hope in these dark times of Covid19. It’s like the two girls symbolize the importance of staying calm, clinging to hope and, of course, the power of community effort against the force of nature.
We all need bouyancy aids these days and a lobster pot or two to hang onto as we wait for better times.
One of the highlights of my year is the arrival of the first snowdrops in my garden and today was the day.
Tramore was shrouded in muggy fog but deep down under the unpruned hydrangea by the front gate, I caught sight of the gleaming white of snowdrops. This moment symbolises so much to me: light after dark; hope after doubt; courage after falterings; reunion after separation; joy after teardrops …..
Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained. (Seamus Heaney)
The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was a fundamental part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.
I simply cannot let a Good Friday go by without giving thanks to every single person who was involved in bringing that Agreement about.
There was a time when it seemed like the Island of Ireland would never see the level of peace that prevails today. It is something that we should never, ever take for granted and it is also something which should be viewed as a beacon of hope by those who are subsumed by pessimism about ongoing violence.
I just tossed everything aside today and went out to greet Spring or should I say that she came to greet me?
First stop was what I’ve christened the ‘Primrose Road’ where the view of the fields was greener than green:
and there they were:
Out by Fenor Bog, one word on a magnificent woodcarving in the graveyard of Fenor Church caught my eye:
Hope is something we all need in life and I guess that each and every one of us has a duty to spread as much hope, in even the tiniest ways, to try and ease the way for those who are caught in a quagmire of hopelessness. That quagmire can seize any of us in the blink of an eye.
Nature was certainly playing her part in singing hope for me today. Is any sight more uplifting than clusters of snowdrops …