Over the last few weeks we have taken time to remember those who gave their lives in war, so that we may live in freedom. It has been extremely moving to see the letters sent home from the front, and the diaries recording the horrendous experiences.
What shines through all of this is love. Love for those at home, love for those fighting, love for the Country they were fighting for.
As I walk our dog each day I am privileged to be able to cross a network of fields and woodland with stunning views. I am aware that I am walking in the footsteps of many who have gone before. It may be that a neighbour walked that same path an hour before me, a soldier with his sweetheart when home on leave, or those who strip farmed the land in the Middle Ages.
Some of the pathways are made by animals, those in the photo are made by the sheep that graze the field at different times of the year. They always take the most direct route with minimum effort. (If there are hilly bits, always follow a sheep path)!
I have spent many hours researching my husband's family tree (and yes, there is a black sheep in there), and we have visited streets, and seen houses, that were part of his history. Taking these footsteps is important. It gives solidity to who he is, where his roots are.
As Christmas approaches we begin to follow family traditions, be it going to a local carol service, getting out an advent calendar that has been used every year, or buying an advent candle that, in our case, we are determined to light every day, and never manage.
All of these things are important in our lives, and never more so than when someone close to us dies. When I visit my clients they recall, with a smile, traditions that are set in stone, memories that have been made and often footsteps that have been followed. This can range from continuing a family business to carrying on a shared hobby.
This doesn't mean that we have to continue those traditions exactly as they were. Everything evolves. What we can do, though, is respect the seeds that were planted and the roots that grew, and if it is time for that tradition to end then that's fine too. It becomes a memory, just like all those that have been shared over the last few weeks, a memory filled with love.