I had a dream. A life-long dream. And the other day that dream came true. It was all I had hoped it would be – and more. Here is a little bit about it. I hope it gives you a taste of the joy the dream fulfilled gave me.
Two moments at Chelsea
The flowers were beautiful, at the height of perfection. The garden designs had been planned for many months. Banks of colour, carefully placed rocks, reflective pools and gently flowing streams, trees placed just so. The miracles of man’s intellect working in tandem with the glorious, generous abandon of God’s creation!
In the pavilion was colour. Tulips and chrysanthemums, roses and lillies. Mounds of potatoes, chillies, tomatoes, perfect, perfect. Swathes of pinks and golds, blues and whites, shapes, sizes and perfumes. The hyacinths advertised their presence metres away before they could be seen. The proteas stood proud before their backdrop of a mountain stream. Gold they won for their splendour.
Surrounded by the indescribable glory of creation, drunk with sights, sounds and scents of all that whirled around us, two moments stood out for me as highlights of my day. Two unexpected moments that surprised me in a day that overflowed with both delight and surprise.
We had walked and gazed for a couple of hours. The wind was cold and we neded a moment of warmth. We queued in the pop-up restaurant and ordered our choice of hot drinks and ‘something to nibble’.
When we found seats I put my hand around my drink, revelling in the sudden warmth. A sip confirmed that it was just what was needed, and I turned my attention to the pastry.
The first bite transported me to my idea of the heavenly banquet that awaits us. Wonderful crisp golden pastry. Sweet delicious apples. Butter, sugar, fruit. I savoured each crumbly piece of pastry and each morsel of apple, making it last as long as possible. I had expected it to be delicious, but the reality exceeded my expectations. For a moment I delighted in this evidence of God’s blessing through the sense of taste!
The second experience tugged at my heart and brought tears to my eyes in a welling of emotion.
We had read about them – and even seen pictures, but nothing had prepared me for the awe and respect that lingered around the viewpoint where people stood ten deep and looked over a sea of hand made poppies. Fifty thousand knitted poppies stained the paths and lawns red, stretching away to the gracious old buildings behind.
And the people stood in near silence and waited their turn. Young and old, from all nations, they moved forward to take their place at the barrier, take a few photos, and stand in awe at the sight; this reminder of the sacrifice of so many for us, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One hundred years ago they gave their lives for us.
After a moment those in the front turned to walk back through the crowd to make room for the next person to have their moment.
Who knows what thoughts went through each mind as we stood there? The horror of that war and all wars is real, even today. I was moved to tears by the carpet of poppies and all they represented, but also by the dignified way the crowd responded to the display in honour of those who fought so valiantly and made the ultimate sacrifice.
As I turned away, I whispered a prayer. ‘At the going down of the sun, Lord, may we remember them. May this be an incentive for peace in our time.’
Chelsea. A day dull of delights that touched all my senses with an awareness of God in unexpected ways. A day of praise and prayer when a lifelong dream to be there came true – and who know how many prayers for peace were offered.
Lord, at the going down of the sun, may we remember them.