Looking out my window today at the grey skies and rain, my eyes caught sight of raindrops clinging to the branches of a willow tree in the garden. It made me think about transformation and about the beauty and magic that is all around us if we only look. Take water. Living in Scotland it’s something we take for granted because it’s everywhere – in our taps, toilets, lochs, rivers and seas, on the pavements and roads, falling from the sky, and in winter it’s in frost, ice and snowflakes. It’s an inconvenience when we’ve planned a picnic and the heavens open, disastrous when land and homes are flooded, dangerous when the seas gobble up cliffs, sailors, fisherfolk and lifeguard crews. It has moods and melodies, can be friend or foe, but how many people in the course of their bust days think of it as magical? Or think of it at all?
Looking at those raindrops, at their perfect shape, how they hang on the branches in all their fragility and beauty, I don’t care what the scientific explanation about surface tensions is. All I can see is the magic of life, how some things are held in place till something comes crashing into them and destroys them and how some others survive until they gradually fade away. Yet while they exist, their beauty is undeniable and when light shines through them, tiny rainbows appear. What’s that if not magic?
As children we accept nature’s magic without question but as we grow older we reach for explanations, we have to know the why of everything. It becomes harder for us to accept the just because and in our efforts to pin down things and categorize them we miss out so much on sheer enjoyment and wonder. Maybe it’s because I am old enough to be returning to a second childhood that these things are now important to me. Maybe because I’m retired and have more time to reflect, or maybe it’s because I have young grandchildren and can see again the world through young eyes that I find it a much better place to inhabit.
I’m still involved in campaigns for justice and appreciate the dark side of life for many people people living on the fringes of existence. My travels have shown me poverty and abuse, open sewers and pollution, the worst in human nature. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by news reports and feel frustrated, that life is futile, people irredeemable. But take a child in your arms, show them a spider’s web, how early morning moisture sparkles on them like jewels, how intricate the pattern is, how the spider will work away to repair the web time after time, never giving up, and you begin to see for yourself how precious life is and your world picture is transformed by the magic of nature. And that, for me, is real magic.