A well-worn footpath, along an open grassy space dotted with willow, larch, and horse chestnut trees, is bordered to one side by water meadows with cows, egrets, and a river. Its other border is a busy major road – two lanes in each direction.

If you’re unlucky enough to have to walk on the pavement by the road, you breathe in fumes from the traffic, listen to the monotonous roar of vehicles and suffer the down draught of heavy goods vehicles as they rumble by.

The water meadows are to the east of the grass path and, by turning your head, you can watch the sun rise in glorious colours, see silent mist hovering low over the river, spot balls of mistletoe in the trees and stare at the cows.

Here is a picture of Paradise to the east, and the world at its most polluted to the west. You tread the path between the two, aware of both but finding one more attractive than the other.

Life is a balance between beauty and ugliness, calm and fury, light and darkness, joy and sorrow, exemplified by these two scenes. Today do you feel nearer the metaphorical sunrise or nearer the metaphorical toxic fumes and clamour? None of us is exempt from the more ugly scenes of life. The positive promise of the sunrise is that the creator of the universe doesn’t change. It is his world, a world that he entered as a baby to live life as we do with its muddles and mayhem, to offer us new life through him, and a world to which he will one day return as king and make all things new and perfect.

Under the grass by the often muddy footpath are swathes of hidden daffodils that will bloom again in the spring. Unseen but promised new life.


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