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Faith: Love, the language of life

Sometimes in these challenging times it is helpful to imagine what it might be like when we are old. Our energy levels may then be low. Our bodies may no longer function as the well-oiled, integrated units they once were. We may sense that we are slowing down while all around us life spins on in its usual hustle and bustle.

Despite the slowing down of the body, in old age perhaps our eyes see some things more clearly than before.

Perhaps the deep purple of the violet, peeping out from under the shade of its plump, umbrella-like leaves, is suddenly startling in its richness. The daffodils may appear like the physical manifestation of joy. The rose, resplendent in its complex pleats and colours and scents, will remain the undisputed queen of flowers. Yes, the gift of nature, in all its wondrous diversity, may become most evident when we are at an age when our continued presence among it is less certain.

Beyond the impassioned debates about climate change, what we see in the garden provides a simple, compelling reason to look after our world; such beauty of itself deserves to be nurtured, protected and preserved.

What of the state of our hearts in old age? By then we have lived a life, had careers and interacted with many people. Some will have charmed us and others have infuriated us with their views, attitudes or manner. There will be those who gained and then lost our friendship through distance, misunderstandings or betrayal. No one gets a free ride through life.

What is clear, though, is that we must not carry bitterness in our hearts. The burden is too heavy and takes up too much space. It weaves a tangle of thorns around the heart that inhibits growth. A spring-clean of the heart is from time to time necessary to ensure we travel light, with no negative feelings or phantom freeloaders to slow us down.

By the end of our lives, when the need to part will wound both those who stay and those who must go, not one moment should be wasted in bitterness. Those end times will be carved in the minds of those who stay forever. Love must be the language of death.

But why wait until then to make words count or clean out the cobwebs of the past? Love should also be the language of life.

A vivid festival: Violets bring joy.

A vivid festival: Violets bring joy.Credit:Angela Wylie

Melissa Coburn is a Melbourne writer.

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