Footprints in Time


There was a garden I chanced upon one day; when skies were blue and clouds were nice and fluffy and white. A simple garden, untouched by the trappings of modernity. Just an old English-style wooden fence that demarcated it from the rest of the world. Of fresh red roses and slender white lilies, peppered with bright purple vines of sweet morning glory. A picture of perfect beauty and bliss. I gently pushed open the gate and walked into the garden, its soft green grass a pleasure to tread upon. No sound, made I, just the heavy movements of my weary feet; as I stepped ever so carefully upon the lush carpet of fresh growing grass. 

There was a little cottage in the middle of the garden. A simple little cottage, with a roof as red as brick and the walls off-white in sunlight’s kiss. Yet its walls told a story of days gone by - of summer and springtime and delight, but also of autumn and winter and pain. I beheld the little cottage in the middle of the garden; an edifice of old-style charm and beauty. A half-smile on my face.

             I remember this old English cottage in the middle of the garden, deep within the inner recesses of memories long past. A childhood hideaway in moments of youth, sprinkled with the laughter of yesterday’s joy, and the innocence of days long gone. The familiar fragrance of flowers so sweet; an epitome of raw beauty at its very best. The myriad of voices overwhelming the senses; a symphony of nature conducted in true avian style.  

 Yet there were the moments of despair, when no floral splendour or avian melody could mask; when the cottage emanated an aura of austerity and sobriety. Of red-orange leaves scattered randomly on the grass and the cottage windows obscured by creeping vines in twilight’s hour. A vacant face and an empty soul. A frightful silence of grief and gloom.

 I blinked away the tears of yesteryear; the sullen sweetness of a youth long gone; the soothing relief of a grief long borne. An unruffled smile painted upon my face.

 I gazed once again upon the little cottage in the garden. No longer dazzling with the newness of a child’s first touch, or overcast with the despair of a man’s first loss. It appeared as I had left it; but more – it now glowed with the radiance of life’s tender caress. A montage of youthful dreams amalgamated with mellowed reality.

 I turned away. Away from the cottage of days long gone; faraway from the garden I beheld so long. And as I fastened the latch back upon the gate, I smiled. It was in my mind’s eye all along – the trail of footprints now etched upon the ground. A path each one must take and carefully tread upon. But I know One who has stepped this way before. And now I seek to trail the path He took. Until the day our footprints entwine as one.

This article was written by Mark Lim Shan-Loong on 30th September 2003.


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Words from the Heart