Columns

December 31, 2014

‘Aim high, she said, and you’ll have no regrets in life’

We stood silently in the graveyard.  The winter sun could not drive away the cold.  As she was lowered into the soil, her 19-year-old grandson kissed a white rose and placed it on her casket. And so it was that, last Saturday, we buried my dear friend Norma Dagg.  That she died over Christmas was nothing out of character.  This woman of supreme elegance was never going to …

 

December 24, 2014

A Day that is wrapped in the Splendour of Paradise

The commotion is over and the weary world is finally at peace.  Pilgrims have returned home to rest with those they love.  The fires are lit and preparations for the great feast are at an end. Christmas Eve is the highlight of my year.  It is a day when we see humanity at its best.  As always, Dickens captured it perfectly when he wrote that …

 

December 17, 2014

The greatest Christmas gift is our time

It is the little things that make Christmas: little things that cost nothing but that fill this season full of joy. These are the things that draw us away from the frenzy and set the heart aglow. They are little things like …

 

December 10, 2014

Christmas and home, the only true solace this side of paradise

I am far from home, far from those I cherish and love. I am in France and am in superb hands. However, even my wonderful hosts know how difficult it is for me to be away from home, especially at Christmas. Home: that domain of the heart to which we all desire to return. Even in an age when people are so detached and disconnected, they still dream …

 

December 3, 2014

In a world that cannot wait, Advent leads us back to reality

Advent: a season of waiting, hoping and longing. It anticipates the light that will soon pierce the darkness. It heralds the coming of a fresh dawn when all things will be renewed. Into the night will break the first glimmer of a new glow, one that will guide us into spring. In the midst of all the yuletide mayhem, when Christmas lights dangle from every lamppost, it is hard for us to …

 

November 26, 2014

Tears are the droplets of compassion that bind us

Life begins and ends in tears. The child is placed in his mother’s arms and she weeps tears of love and unbounded joy. Creation has performed its greatest miracle and she is overwhelmed. The sobbing spouse holds tight …

 

November 19, 2014

Don’t give in to the mob, just listen to your child’s wisdom

‘I wish we lived inside a children’s book’. When I asked our eldest what he meant, he simply replied: ‘In those books people are always kind, loving and there is never any trouble or violence’. As always, the greatest wisdom falls from the mouth of babes. No doubt affected by the recent …

 

November 12, 2014

The year is drawing to its close, so let there be light!

A veil of darkness stretches across the sky. It is only two in the afternoon yet dusk seeks to steal what is left of the day. We have entered the season of shadows, a time of little light and seemingly endless night. I know some people who say …

 

November 5, 2014

For the first time, I had no fear of flying. Here is why

I awoke to the faint hum of the clock. For more than a decade I have woken naturally. That day, however, I was in denial. It was the morning of our …

 

October 29, 2014

Maisie’s spirit will live on in the inspiration she gave others

It was before dawn when I posted these lines on my website: ‘The autumn leaf displays the true majesty of old age. This is beauty crafted in paradise, a reminder that we too can shine with grace as day turns to night’. Soon after, I received a text saying…

 

October 22, 2014

Our blessed family ritual of the roast

It is my favourite time of the day, the moment when I light the lamps in preparation for the evening meal. This is not feeding time but a ceremony to celebrate our togetherness. The candle, the music and the tincture of wine are all symbols of…

 

October 15, 2014

I remember the tears for Pope Paul VI

It was the morning of August 6, 1978. I was in Coventry for my summer holidays. As I ventured downstairs, I heard someone softly sobbing. I entered the kitchen and found…

 

October 8, 2014

Strange how illness reveals us at our best

I am physically and emotionally exhausted. For days, my wife and I have been warring against a virulent virus. Having infected our boys’ school, it was only a matter of time before…

 

October 1, 2014

Fine wine and music impart meaning to the madness

I began 2014 by writing: ‘Choose a new composer each month and listen to his greatest works. As evening falls, sit back with a tincture of your favourite brew, close your eyes and let the sweet sound do the rest.’ Much to my great surprise, many of you …