How rarely we stop to think that we are alive; that we are part of the great cosmic joke or miracle that has brought life from the fertile soil of our little star orbiting rock. Earlier today I looked into a mirror, not a real mirror but a person who was to me, for the briefest of moments, a metaphorical mirror, and in whom I at once saw all the life that was me and all the life that was him. In seeing this tiny human being I was immersed completely in his newness and in the most beautiful appreciation of my own being there; being in that moment where he saw me and I saw him, and where there was no distinction between our otherness one from the other. Perhaps it would be better to say that I felt that we saw together the greater sum of the both of us. In that moment I was reminded that I was alive; that we were alive, and that this truth was both fragile and without doubt the most precious treasure in existence. For all of the joy that swept over me in that moment there was a shadow – an awareness that this moment would end, and – in time – all moments would end. This flash of an instant would never be repeated.
When our eyes met I loved him and wished him a long and happy life, and knew the price I would pay to make my wish for him come true. I have spent the best part of the past six weeks with the mutilated and half-forgotten dead of the First World War and with the books describing the horrors of violence in Colombia and Rwanda. Each loss had become, after weary hours of digging and reading, nothing more than numbers on a ledger sheet – mere statistics. Yet each of these was once the flower of life, the microcosm of the totality of the wonder I have now seen in my little mirror, and now that I am thinking that I am alive, I am set free into a rapture of knowing – or knowing in part – the splendour of the gift we have been given. Without pause the sands of time are running, and these innumerable gains are pouring through our fingers never to be recovered or relived. Tonight I am going to stop, sit down and think only of this. Remember and live my thoughts and memories in this moment; this present moment, and for all the grim shadows haunting me I know I will rejoice because I am already rejoicing.
Unto us a child is born,
Unto us a son is given;
And government will be upon his shoulders.
And his name will be called
Wonderful counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.