Faith Focus: Let’s find joy around us

Imogen de la Bere

Imogen de la Bere - Credit: Archant

The other day I caught sight of the most beautiful winged creature I have ever seen in the wild.

It might have been a butterfly or a moth, but I haven’t been able to identify it, so perhaps it was a rarity. It felt like a gift, and has continued to feel like a gift.

Like many others, I am nostalgic for the early days of lockdown, when we felt we had been given a gift – a vision of the world without traffic, without noise, where people in St Albans and Harpenden walked by and smiled, and strangers greeted each other.

Of course, like my winged visitor, it could not last. And unlike my butterfly, the blissful peace had its evil twin, the terror and pain and stress of plague.

We humans are poor at remembering mercies. Good news is dull news, and reminders of past happiness make us sad. But this is entirely a learnt behaviour, and we can all study to change it.

We do not need to spend every conversation complaining about authorities and spreading gloom. We can, instead, put some work in to finding other topics for conversation. We can put some effort into finding delight and fun.

This brand of positivity is unfashionable and perhaps seems shallow to some. But pause for a moment and look at what we have here in this part of Hertfordshire: peaceful streets, green spaces, wonderful walks, ancient walls, abundant trees, fine vistas, flower gardens and knitted tops on our pillar boxes.

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Finding positive joy in our surroundings and our good fortune does require work. The good may be God-given, but the appreciation of it has to be striven for. Sadness, pain and deprivation are everywhere and those of us who are blessed by life should never seek to ignore them.

But there is a difference between being aware of the pain of the world and allowing it to completely blind us to the beauty and goodness. Like my butterfly – or was it a moth? – it may be here a moment and gone the next. But it is a gift.

Imogen de la Bere is a New Zealand writer, living in St Albans.