The transforming power of Love

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Leonardo da Vinci c.1499                                             Madonna & Child                       with St Anne & the infant John the Baptist                          One can’t help feeling the weight of expectation on those two tots

Mrs Thatcher missed so much of life in virtue of her maxim about buses. It went something along the lines of the living definition of failure is using the bus if over the age of 25.

I witnessed a thing of miraculous wonder the other day. Returning my gaze from the sky to the goings-on around me, there was a woman of indeterminate age – truly, anything between 30 and 50 – lumbering back down to the driver to tap her Oyster card. From the rear view, this figure seemed akin to a small, dishevelled mountain. When she turned it was clear the world had been nothing but immutably harsh and cruel to her.

Lines of dread had chiselled deep gashes across her brow while vaguely flabby cheeks were capilliaried with cold. The amorphous mass of her be-holed cardigan suggested the shape of Baltic granite without the smootheness and the matted hair appeared more akin to a horse-hair mattress. Her gait was that of a drunken docker and her bulk was somewhat overwhelming.

All this impressed itself upon me in a heartbeat. Yet two seconds later, this embodiment of hellish misery was a vision of loveliness. How, I hear you cry? She smiled at the very small child sitting in the push-chair.

The love that cascaded from every pore of her core had a wholly transforming effect as dazzling as an ogre changed into a princess, with or without a pea.

Gone was any notion of a cumbersome wreck and in its place was the dancing delight, fairy light affection that wrapped itself around mother and child. The sweetness of motion cradled her from being over-powered by the love that yodelled from her, illuminating her eye and skin and heart.

At this time of familial warmth and reminders of existential vitalism, I can’t help pondering the shattering simplicity that what makes life meaningful … is love.

Have a splendidly joy-filled, love-funneled Christmas.

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