Yesterday evening I was making tea when I noticed the light had changed.
Out of my window I could see the house on the opposite side of the road, and reflected on it’s brick-work an orange glow. The quality of the reflected brilliance was so particular, so extraordinary, that I mentioned it to Maddy, my 9 year old, commenting on the sunset we couldn’t quite see.
At the same time (because I am nothing if not a multi-tasker) I was also in the midst of a text conversation with my friend Esther about, among other things, the brilliant play we had seen the night before. In the middle of this she texted me abruptly,
“Have you seen the sky?!!”.
I responded that I thought it was probably magnificent but I was making fajitas for five, and was about to serve up, so would have to miss the sunset tonight. A small iota of self-pity, hard-done-by martyrdom in my sigh, I resigned myself to putting the family first and prioritising feeding my children.
Then I had a moment.
I turned off the oven, put lids on the pans containing the now-ready dinner. Pulled my boots on, grabbed my coat, hat and camera. Shouted something at my 11 year old about only being 5 minutes and not touching the dinner, and ran out of the house.
This is not a cautionary tale about leaving your children unattended (as it happens my husband was just pulling into the driveway, so fear not readers, they were being supervised).
This is an exhortation to seize the moment.
I ran hell-for-leather down the road, camera over my shoulder bumping against my back. And in my head the words, ‘gather ye rosebuds, gather ye rosebuds’ on a loop.
And as I reached the bottom of the road, and quickly removed the lens cap, this is what I snapped;
Over the next five minutes, it changed from this,
finally to this,
All the beauty I would have missed, for the sake of ten minutes out of my evening, for the inconvenience of having to pull my boots on and re-heat the tea, for the risk of disrupting my routine and chasing the possibility of joy.
And as I walked back up the hill, I realised, it is all connected, from what I wrote earlier this week about harvesting fruit at it’s peak, to this spontaneous moment witnessing the sky put on a lavish performance.
Between birth and death, life offers a myriad of experiences. Work and rest, health and suffering, comfort and pain, beauty and despair.
We will, most likely, experience them all at some point.
For me there are, there have been, enough bleak days, when the possibility or capacity to revel in the glory of a sunset is beyond my grasp.
When I can, I must.
I want to learn when I am offered moments of delight, to grab them with both hands, to run, apron on under my coat to meet them, to soak up the greatness of them, to revel in their wonder.
To gather the rosebuds.