When we went to see the first field Ryan wanted to buy, I hated it. It was at the edge of a housing estate, there was a scattering of plastic bottles at the gate, and most of it was just lumpy, reedy bogland. There was a stretch of the river Lagan at the bottom, and a little stone bridge, but of course I’d already decided it was no good, and that was that.
The second field was streets (or fields) ahead. The sun was hitting lush green grass, surrounded by more beautiful countryside, with a view of hills and distant houses beyond. So much more obviously picturesque. But, sadly, so much more expensive.
So today, he got the first field. At long last, I’m thinking about that river with the bridge. And how amazing it will be when the not-so-pretty landscape is adorned with light green saplings, mending the uneven ground, soaking up, thriving on the marshland. So it didn’t win my sceptical heart at first, but now, it’s got my hope, and that will go further than anything.
Present circumstances, at first, second or even hundredth glance at my life are like that first field: tough, overwhelming, repugnant even. But, root them in hope, and there’s a redemptive shift in perspective: I notice how my wee boy instantly takes my hand in front of all his classmates when I tell him my legs aren’t so good, or my daughter playing quietly in her room every day so I can have a rest, or my husband making me laugh when I’m getting too morose. Or buying a field that teaches hope. Out of that muddy place and these painful ashes, slowly, slowly, I know that beauty will rise.