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Finding joy…

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““And then, right on cue as it were, in walks our angel.”

“Oh, you mean the old woman with the radiant face and sparkly eyes.”

“Ah ha, you see, even you noticed her radiant face, bit of a giveaway that one.”

Wen chuckles, “Well to be strictly accurate she didn’t so much walk in, as shuffle.”

“Angels always affect that shuffle, it’s merely to throw you off the scent.”

“And what makes you so sure she was an angel, I mean apart from the radiant face, the sparkly eyes and the shuffle…”

“And the stockings halfway up her leg…another classic element of angel disguise.”


“Well for one thing what did she have to be so radiant about?”

“That’s true. Her life, as described, was pretty much a litany of disaster.”

“She talked about her and her husband’s quite considerable bodily troubles and ailments as if she were talking about children playing out and scraping limbs and what was the secret of her joy in the face of such calamities, and what did she exhort us to do?”

“She exhorted us to pray.”

“Ah, that’s my girl, she was the Angel of the Praying Hands. After all, the angel is the one thing missing from the Four Ages of Man Window.”

“Well, I still think that’s a bit of a stretch but it certainly felt like something of a privileged moment to be in the church with her at that time.”

“She even asked us if we’d seen the Christmas Window.”

“She did.”

“Did you see her after we’d left the Church?”

“Come to think of it I didn’t, and we weren’t too far behind her.”

“We weren’t too far behind no, but I did see her. She was shuffling down to the opposite gate to the one we used when we emerged. She got to the gate looked back at us, smiled, and then disappeared into thin air.”

“The problem with you Don, I never know when you’re being serious.””

Excerpt from Giants Dance: Rhyme and Reason by Stuart France and Sue Vincent

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It is a true story. We were visiting a beautiful little church with some amazing stained glass and ancient stonework when this radiant old lady walked in, for no apparent reason, and began talking to us. The tale she told of her own and her husband’s trials and tribulations was one that would make most people weep. Life had been hard for her, she had lived… was living… through some very tough times, yet here she was, simply oozing sunshine.

Occasionally you meet people like that. Regardless of what life has thrown at them, there is, it seems, an indestructible core of joy that is untouched by events and the daily battles against seemingly insurmountable problems. And it doesn’t stop there. They can be weeping in grief and still meet your eyes with that inner radiance that transcends the vicissitudes of human emotion. It is as if that core is shining from another level of being entirely, just as the sun lights the earth yet is not of it.

Xmas St Faiths 059Where does it come from? How do they find it? There are many possible answers, depending upon your point of view. Perhaps it comes from being who you are meant to be… an acceptance of self that neither judges nor blames but accepts that this is who you are, without denying what you may have been or indeed what you could become. Maybe it springs from faith in the rightness of the moment, good or bad, or in a higher power or design whose plan we may not grasp but in which we know we can trust. Sometimes, I think it is born of the simple act of being the person you wish to meet in the mirror. Or simply being alive to the beauty in the world and its denizens.

Yet when you look at all of those, they all come down to the one thing… that joy is born of Love. Perhaps that was what was radiating from our angel in her wrinkled stockings, drawing an answering smile from our eyes and hearts and leaving a lasting impression of tenderness for the little old lady who shared with us a golden moment out of time.