This is the time of year for the local farmers to wait for a couple of days of fine weather to dry the grass crop and then cut and turn and collect for hay.  We’ve just had a few days of glorious weather which has led to them working flat out to get the hay in before the next bout of rain. 

During the grass growing season, you can see where the walkers go.  Most of them are very good and stick to the paths, even if the paths go straight through the middle of the field and therefore the middle of the crop.  The grass is laid flat in a narrow V shape so you can see where to walk, thanks to the guidance of the person who went there before you. 

Then when the crop is gathered in, it is like the picture has been swept clean.  Except that it hasn’t.  The main field has a yellow look to it.  But standing out dramatically against this is the narrow green strip where the sunlight has got through to the base of the grass where the walkers have flattened it.  So the marks of people’s passage through the crop is there for all to see.

This is something that always gets me thinking about cause and effect – the butterfly analogy – where a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon rain forest could have an effect on the other side of the world through a weather system begun through the actions of the butterfly’s wings.  Whilst that is a philosophical point, and sometimes a little hard to imagine, it’s useful to remember that what we say and do and how we interact with people has a dramatic effect.  Our passage through our lives is marked in a similar way to the field.  We leave marks of our having been there through how people remember us, whether we have made a difference in other people’s lives through our actions, whether in love or hate, obsession or indifference, for good or for ill. 

I’m reminded of the bad effects this can cause through a memory of a young friend who had a great passion for horses, and was setting up a riding stable with her parents.  A few years before, she had had a relationship with a very possessive man, and they had been apart for about a year.  The trouble was he was determined that if he couldn’t have her, no-one else would, and he started assaulting her both psychologically and physically.  To their shame the police didn’t take her concerns for her safety seriously, not even when he sent two men to beat her up with a baseball bat in her own home!   A few months later, she was dead – gunned down by him and a friend of his in a quiet country lane near where I live.  She had been forced off the road whilst driving, and then the ‘friend’ pulled the trigger.  She was a wonderfully lively, positive young lady with a life brim full of possibilities who affected everyone she met in an uplifting way – except him.  His demons couldn’t let him see anything other than his loss.  He was caught and lots of us testified to his obsession and behaviour and now he is serving a long, long time in prison.  But he destroyed a beautiful person.

Of course, such a sad story can be countered by many happy stories – how individuals can make a huge difference for the good in many people’s lives, purely by the nature of their personalities.  I’m sure you will know of at least half a dozen people who have this kind of personality. 

But it behoves us to remember that how we live our lives has a direct impact on many people, whether we come into personal contact with them or not, and I for one want to make that a positive experience, whether I know about it or not!