Where did the summer go: balmy days filled with BBQs, loud music festivals with cold lager and luxurious picnics, dogs paddling in white foam, fish and chips in newspaper, and for some reason exploring other countries? But it was a time to pause and reflect. There was another version: stuffy commutes, sauna like bedrooms, never-ending summer holidays which become purgatory for carers, traffic jams that stole the joy of the trip to the coast, and over-priced ice-cream melted in a heap on the crowded pebbly beach.

My wife, Anna, took this idyllic photo at a brook in Bushy Park. The children in the distance bask in the gorgeous natural beauty. Also I think if you look
carefully enough at the water I think you may even see an image of Jesus.

When you reminisce, are you drawn to the positive or the negative? It can be one or both. Can we accept both restorative and tricky summers, wonderful but rough winters? Relationships can be loving or painful, solitude settled, vocations fulfilling but imperfect bosses, the grief of mixed opportunities, but contentment with your lot.

The brook reminds me of Psalm 23 in which one phrase says ‘He leads me beside the still waters, and restores my soul’, then a few phrases on we find ‘even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me.’ That sounds less appealing. I have always seen these moments as
sequential but what if they are one and the same?

What if the brook is in the dark valley? Media vita in monte sumus – these words mean ‘in the midst of life we are in death’. Life and death co-exist. Jesus is the one who walks with us through both. Can we feel his hand in ours? Can we find the sunshine in the shade, the oasis in the desert, the friend in our distress? Look back, look forward, have no fear, you are never alone.

Azariah France-Williams