This morning was my first 'early' walk for a while - whilst it has been icy I have been waiting until it is light before venturing out.
However, perhaps because I am a winter baby and was born in the 1962-63 winter, I do like walking in snow, so when I woke up to freshly fallen snow (just a sprinkling to be fair) I togged up and headed out.
This photo is of Bingham's Pond looking towards Gartnaval Hospital at about 7:30 I guess. The pond is mostly frozen, and snow has settled on the ice, yet there is a shiny patch of water where ducks and swans can still swim and feed.
As we enter a tighter lockdown, and are reminded that we should be following the spirit, not just the letter, of the law, I think early morning walks are back on the agenda, if only as a way of avoiding crowds.
Wherever you are, whatever your rules, stay safe, and enjoy such beauty as may be found, whether by getting outside or by looking out of the window.
This week, someone suggested a new route for a walk - going through the pedestrian tunnel that passes under the River Clyde. I was curious - having, in the past, been told very clearly not to go there, because it wasn't safe.
So here I was, about to walk somewhere new, not too far away from the familiar streets of home.
The tunnel is well lit, and well maintained. It is also estimated at a ten minute walk - five down hill, five up hill - being something like 700m long.
As I yomped along the pedestrian path - separated from the cycle routhe by a strong barrier - I passed three people coming th eother way (it isn't really wide enough, someone has to flatten against the wall/barrier), whilst following two who were some distance ahead of me.
Emerging into the sunlight, I walked back parallel to the river, even discovering a new bit of river-side pathway to explore when it is less slippery underfoot. And I saw familiar landmarks from different angles - the backs of buildings, thenetrances to car parks, and so on.
So, taking the tunnel walk was a good experience, and one I would repeat, at least in the middle of the day. I noticed there is an intercom control, which I believe allows access to be regulated, and there is CCTV at each end, so I guess someone would notice if you didn't eventaully emerge!
I am missing my long, early morning walks, it has to be acknowledged, but it is good to get out and make the most of what is on my doorstep.
On Sunday we began a month-long series of services on the theme of hope. Three friends shared thoughts on hope, we sang hymns/songs that expressed a variety of writers' understandings of hope, we broke bread and we prayed. As I led intercessions, I found myself using the phrase 'may their hope be active, may their hope be strong', echoing the thoughts others (and indeed I) had shared.
Yesterday I enjoyed a long walk (around nine miles) about half of which followed the River Clyde into the city centre. The sky was blue, the sun was bright (dazzling if you turned south-east). The path itself varied... in places it was completely clear and dry; in places it had sparkly white frost; in places it was sheet ice. But whatever the underfoot conditions, it led me to the city centre. And I think that's a bit like hope. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is challenging but fun, sometimes it is hard work and even risky (the mother of fools, as the Lithuanian proverb would express it), but it keeps on - it is active; it is strong.
In the afternoon, I settled down with a book, a cup of tea, and an iced bun. The news alert on my smartphone disrupted my reverie, as I heard and read that Scotland (and within a few hours the entire UK) is back in lock down. I absolutely think this is the right call, and is, ultimately, a hopeful - or hope-filled - call that will help control this deadly virus. It needs action. It needs strength. It isn't fun, it isn't what we want, but it is what will lead us on the journey to a brighter future.
I chose this photo to share not just because I loved the sparkly frost on the path, but because it shows the destination as well as the route towards it . Of course we need to look down and check our footing (even doing so, on a couple of previous days' walks I ended up flat on the pavement!) but we also need to look up and look around us... savour the beauty of the moment in which we find ourselves, and catch a fresh glimpse of where we are going.
Locking down again is hard, disappointing, frustrating - but it's just another stage on the journey to the future. As we journey onwards, may our hope be active, may our hope be strong.
Each day, seen or unseen, the sun rises, a sign of God's faithfulness and care, a sign of hope even in the hardest of times.
This view was taken from the kitchen of my hopme, looking south towards the River Clyde. You can make out the tower at the Glasgow Science Centre, and a huge block of student accommodation, more or less on the horizon. The trees stand stark and tall, reaching skywards. At the bottom the street lights illuminate the way for those needing to go out early, whilst most homes sleep on (it is, after all New Year's Day).
Every picture tells a story, and this one speaks of a city I am privleged to call 'home', of people I love, and of the God whose immeasurable love is renewed each new day.
Wishing everyone who reads this health, hope and moments of happiness, however the year may unfold.