The picture I wish I’d taken

Walking home tonight, the low evening light was shining through the new leaves of a little tree at the edge of the Meadows (a tranche of parkland in Edinburgh city centre). Its trunk was no wider than my palm. Bunches of pale green leaves were semi-unfurled, hesitant in the spring air.

The tree was very young – just a fraction of the height of the mature trees that stood behind, whose buds were still tightly closed and so much higher they were out of my line of sight.

Those luminous, delicate pale green leaves, so full of life, were in striking contrast to the numerous black trunks behind. I thought of taking a picture. But I was hungry and wanted to get home, and the tree was on the other side of the road, and there were cars everywhere, and part of me – the bigger part of me – couldn’t be bothered in the moment.

On Wednesday evening I went along to the ‘Two halves of life’ group (the name is taken from a phrase used by Father Richard Rohr), run by the Coracle Group. It’s a monthly discussion / meditation group, which, to me, oozes life juice… one of those rare spaces where anyone can say anything, knowing it won’t be repeated, knowing that we’re all connected somehow, that we learn from each other. After the usual food and wine and catching up, we were offered a variety of readings or poems to meditate upon. I picked up ‘Being where we are’. It was a poem by Philip Larkin, together with a Hockney painting, ‘Woldgate Woods’.

The Trees

The trees are coming into leaf

like something almost being said;

the recent buds relax and spread,

their greenness is a kind of grief.


Is it that they are born again

and we grow old?

No they die too.

Their yearly trick of looking new

is written down in rings of grain.


Yet still the unresting castles thresh

in fullgrown thickness every May.

Last year is dead, they seem to say,

begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

‘Like something almost being said’… a half-thought… that might unfurl into a whole thought.

I guess it resonates with the place I’m in at the moment: a place of transition. I’m half way there but I’ve no idea where this is taking me. I hope I am not so distracted by work and friends and stuff and the ‘louder’ hungers in life that I don’t keep stopping to listen.

It’s important not to take ourselves too seriously, yet it’s also important to listen to ourselves as much as to others, to listen to the quieter voice as much as to everything else.

By Liz Holt