Tidings of Comfort and Joy


Whether or not we choose to celebrate Christmas, it’s inevitable that we each have a favourite aspect of this time of year, something that’s either real or else hoped for. We rarely have a white Christmas here in Britain, but the vision of a silent, wooded landscape carpeted by snow strikes a profound chord with me and I’m not alone in this, as it’s something that appeals to a deep-rooted part of the British psyche.

Over the course of decades, whenever there’s been a heavy snowfall, I’ve ventured out on foot, on a motorbike or in a car, in places such as my native south Wales, London, Devon or the wastes of Salisbury Plain. My reward for this has been to find myself alone, beneath the cold, distant stars, in a wonderland of eerie silence and aching, sublime beauty; or as Black Sabbath described it in their song Snowblind, a “crystal world with winter flowers”.

My favourite Christmas carol is God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, primarily on account of its evocative mediaeval melody, but also because of its celebratory chorus that speaks or sings of “Tidings of comfort and joy”, things we all yearn to hear, regardless of our faith or lack of one. Over the course of the next fourteen days or so, our political and religious leaders will go through the motions of delivering aspirational speeches and of making empty promises to us, but they will not tell us what we most want to hear, that in 2016, they will collectively bring an end to warfare, poverty, hunger, disease and injustice.

In the absence of such benign, binding edicts, I suppose the best we can all do is to give our leaders a lesson in humanity by continuing to treat each other as human beings, with encouragement, understanding, patience and above all, kindness. So, on this hopefully uplifting note, I wish each and every one of you who has visited my site from all corners of the planet we’re blessed to share a merry Christmas and a happy, peaceful New year.

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