Autumn is here! Last week we enjoyed balmy 27c days. This week it is cool and rather wet.

I walked through the park a few days ago. What a difference a couple of weeks make. The flower beds that displayed blood red and brilliant white begonias, royal blue lobelia and vibrant yellow marigolds are now bare except for a few hardy evergreen shrubs. The number of mothers (and a few fathers) pushing their young offspring have dwindled to a few. Children running around, shouting to each other and squealing as they enjoyed themselves in the play area are gone. The tennis courts and bowling green are now vacant.  It is almost eerily quiet except for the passing traffic and the occasional train.

Life is like the passing seasons. Spring dawns full of hope, summer is bright and cheerful, autumn reflective and winter often full of gloom.

 This time last year I was waiting to be admitted to hospital for major surgery. The specialist nurses and the surgeon expressed their confidence in the successful outcome expected. However from previous experience of surgery I know that even for the most minor operation there is a 1 in 32,000 chance a patient will not survive the operation. Pretty good odds I would say, yet the CEO of a company I worked for lost two wives from post operative shock following the same minor day surgery operation.

 As I prepared for the operation I was in reflective mood.  I thought of my experiences over the years. The achievements, disappointments, the wonderful people I have known, places I have visited. Most of all I thought of the amazing people who are my loved ones. These are my family and friends, many of them thousands of miles away. How I wished I could see them all. Speak to them face to face, hug them. I knew they were thinking of me and praying for me. These are not ‘fair weather’ friends. You know the kind. Always around when thing are going well. Happy to participate in situations they enjoy but are nowhere to be seen when you really need them. They are life’s begonias, lobelias and marigolds, full of the joys of life. Those who truly love us are the hardy evergreens. They will stand by you, be there for you, support you. They will share your pain, your loneliness, your sadness as well as the joyful happy times.

 It is without a doubt enjoyable to be a begonia, a lobelia or a marigold, the life of the party so to speak. But that is not for me. I would like to think of myself not a fair weather friend but rather like a hardy evergreen. Not showy but always there for them no matter what life throws their way.

 The next time I visit the park and see the hardy evergreens they will remind me of the amazing people I call my family and friends. They are always there for me as I am for them.

 Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

                                                                                                       Saint Francis of Assisi

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