The Glory

I had walked this same path countless times before, but this day I noticed something different.

Yes, it is the same path leading up from the street I live in. It still leaves the main road to rise between the country cottages lining the unpaved stony lane. It still takes me under overhanging yew trees in the lonely graveyard, devoid now of the chapel that has become a house.

In rain, in fervent sun, in despair and in joy, alone, or with my dog; or better yet, with H. I had walked so many times from the stony road to the narrow footpath. If it were summer and wet, the long grasses would crowd the rutted path, soaking my shoes and trousers.

The path runs halfway up the river valley following the course of the Misbourne. Below it lie the long wonderful gardens of the old High Street houses, rich and splendid. Above it gently rising are the farm meadows of pasture, the wheat, and wooded tops of hills.

The seasons, the mood I am in, my age, through the years, have brought constant change to it all. For it is more than a path. It is the geography and historic measure of my soul. Its length and breadth hold landmarks of my becoming. That old barn there is where, as a child, I first dared enter someone else’s property to see what it held, and found treasures of ordinary things wonderfully new to me.

There, down the valley, beneath that stable loft, I first glimpsed the top of a woman’s soft thighs as she climbed the ladder to the loft. How I came to be there I have no memory. But the beauty of her naked thighs I cannot forget.

And that stretch of lane passing the school is where I dared go beyond the boundaries of my childhood fears. I dared to walk further, and go into the unknown, to sail over the edge of my world and survive.

On that path there, between the houses, I knew the smells of bruised elder, and the incense of privet in bloom. Over in that distant copse I discovered where the nightjars nested, and where the grass snakes writhed by the lake.

Far across the valley, up high on that distant hill near the reservoir, H. and I tumbled among the fir trees, and loved each other on the carpet of leaves. Then, in the quietness following our love, we looked up and saw four fox cubs playing, almost near enough to touch.

Today though, I am standing admiring a tree. It is a giant elm, gnarled, weathered, its bark broken in places, leaving a hollow interior. What history this tree knows. What relationships it holds, and what storms survived.

But it is not the tree that has called me. Or, maybe it is the tree, the smell of elder flowers, the privet, my woman’s lips on mine, the summer, the winter – all. And in the mood of that wholeness I walk on, turning up Cherry Lane, up into the hills as evening spreads its quiet.

Standing in a high meadow, looking back into the valley as the light fails, there is a great richness in the light places and the shadows, the contours, the folds of hills hiding people and their dwellings. So is my life rich when I do not stand too close, and distance enables its tapestry to be seen.

And in the middle of it all, there is something out of which the weaving and the colours come. All the hues are there, but only some are used.

Is this my life? The deep blues of this night hiding the details of the valley—is that my life?

The quiet here is like music. And I look up, and the heavens are ablaze with an extraordinary number of stars. I am breathless with the wonder of them, with the singing I can hear.

Can you hear it! Can you hear the song of the heavens? The stars are pouring out glory upon us. Glory to you! Glory to me! The earth is bathed in glory. Wonder falls upon us.

My gaze returns to the valley. It is alive with lights. Hundreds of people are in the streets gazing at the marvel of the heavens, drinking in the new wine.

Transformation is upon us!

Copyright ©2001 Tony Crisp

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved