The Old Boy, the Wonder Dog and I spent two weeks in a cabin on the edge of a forest. (Sounds like the start of a fairy tale, right?) Every morning we’d put out the crumbs and then sat back to watch the customers rush in: blue wrens and red-eye finches, blackbirds, and one little bush rat. Rex had to content himself with running back and forth in front of the window and growling menacingly. The hungry hordes couldn’t have cared less. In the forest and surrounding hills we saw wallabies, echidnas and one kangaroo. There were bucket-loads of cockatoos, crimson parrots, rosellas, lorikeets, kookaburras, little hawks and we even saw three wedge-tailed eagles.

Now I’m back, sitting at my desk, telling myself I should get busy. In the last few weeks a few more of my friends have been diagnosed with cancer and one has died. Bloody disease! (Pardon my French.) Lately it seems that every second person I know has it. I saw Dr P yesterday for my monthly dose of essence of ancient Egyptian(den-o-su-mab). I asked him if he ever feels as though he’s trying to sweep back the tide with a hand-broom. He said that he’s the doctor, not a patient, so he gets to go home at the end of the day, have a big glass of red wine and turn his brain off.  He also said that perhaps, at the end of the year, he might reduce my visits to every three months. Obviously, he said,  my regular visits to the hospital were depressing for me. I nodded sadly but inside I was doing the happy dance. Every three months? Why, that’s almost as good as being cured!

Perhaps partly inspired by my time in the wilderness, and partly by the recent diagnoses, I’ve found myself pondering life: the meaning, the journey, the joys, the speed. (The rate, not the drug.) The Bible says we are like flowers in the field; here today and gone tomorrow. When I was young I thought, “Get off the grass! We can live for ages. Why, Mrs So-and-so is 102!” Now I’ve entered the “more mature” years I think, “Where the hell did it all go?”

My little holiday reminded me of the simple joys that make life worthwhile: driving down roads so thickly lined with trees that it feels as though you’re driving through a leafy tunnel;  hearing the kookaburras laughing in the morning; the smell of good coffee; eating fish and chips on a beach; listening to music so exquisite it brings tears to your eyes. My life is rich with people who love me and whom I love. I have faith in love and mercy and I am guided by hope.

Living without hope is like living with the lights off. Let’s all do our best to shine some light into our little corner of the world. Maybe, together, we can make it a better place.