It's been another cool and unreliable spring, and we had to just seize the moment and head off to the bluebell woods on Wednesday morning, spontaneously abandoning maths books. We didn't even pack a picnic - just through some snacks in my bag, grabbed the dog and the camera and drove off.
Every sense is held captive to the magic of the woods - the sweet, cool, honey fragrance of the flowers and the green smell of the fresh, young spring - the sound of the rejoicing birds and the bees - the amazing blue that seems like a hallucination when we turn a corner and suddenly there it is, flooding out among the trees.
Every year, the children are almost overwhelmed. The spring time woods and our traditional visit are well-remembered and much anticipated but the beauty is so amazing, so other worldly - the whole place completely transformed into something out of a story book by the over-flowing of a fairy's garden.
It does my heart such good to watch Kitten running as swift and graceful as a deer along the narrow little pathways among the bluebells, usually with Coco dashing behind, ears flung out like wings, and to watch Mouse unbend a little and stalk about majestically with a staff in his hands as if he was exploring an undiscovered land.
When we go the woods are always quiet, but I watch the mostly elderly couples who pass by, and I ponder the years to come. Will we come here with teenagers who try to sulk or act cool but get won over by the beauty and the memories? When the children have grown and gone out to live their own lives, if they will share this tradition with their own little ones? Will Oz and I will still come here, in decades to come, white haired and alone except for a dog, to walk and wonder?
In such an ancient place, where the slow years turn, where flowers bloom and fade and bloom again, where leaves grow and fall and grow once more, such questions seem natural and nonthreatening.
But then I thought that actually love and beauty and joy are an irrefutable answer to the hate and rage and insanity of the murderers.
"My little children," wrote the Apostle John in his first letter, "let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.... Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. ...Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another... If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also."