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The Power of Gratitude

15th September 2022

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”


HOM: Listening with understanding and empathy

Since the death of Queen Elizabeth II there has been an outpouring of expressions of gratitude for a life well lived, dedicated to service and duty. These have come from the great and the good across the globe but also from ordinary people who have queued often for hours, to pay their last respects as the Queen lay in state or to sign books of thanks and commemoration. There have also been banks of floral tributes at many sites associated with the Queen and a significant number of neatly wrapped marmalade sandwiches and Paddington bears!

It is not often that we see such a collective expression of both grief and gratitude for the life of an individual who most did not know personally, but who was felt to have been a part of their lives.

For our younger people the significance and appreciation for the life of our monarch may not be so keenly felt and so it is up to us to help them recognise the import of her life and indeed death, in the life of our nation. That she has inspired such gratitude will give us the opportunity to discuss the values that she both stood for and embodied, service, duty, loyalty and constancy to name but a few.

Finally, a poignant and fitting ‘Floral Tribute’ written by the poet laureate Simon Armitage (who delighted us with a visit to Wychwood last term) to mark the passing of Elizabeth II, and which focuses on one of the queen’s favourite flowers the lily of the valley, a flower in bouquets at both her coronation and wedding.

Floral Tribute

Evening will come, however determined the late afternoon,
Limes and oaks in their last green flush, pearled in September mist.
I have conjured a lily to light these hours, a token of thanks,
Zones and auras of soft glare framing the brilliant globes.
A promise made and kept for life – that was your gift –
Because of which, here is a gift in return, glovewort to some,
Each shining bonnet guarded by stern lance-like leaves.
The country loaded its whole self into your slender hands,
Hands that can rest, now, relieved of a century’s weight.

Evening has come. Rain on the black lochs and dark Munros.
Lily of the Valley, a namesake almost, a favourite flower
Interlaced with your famous bouquets, the restrained
Zeal and forceful grace of its lanterns, each inflorescence
A silent bell disguising a singular voice. A blurred new day
Breaks uncrowned on remote peaks and public parks, and
Everything turns on these luminous petals and deep roots,
This lily that thrives between spire and tree, whose brightness
Holds and glows beyond the life and border of its bloom.

Poet laureate