This morning the sky is an unrelenting grey, sombre and lifeless, sapping my very being. The trees are mere skeletons, each tiny twig hard and stark against the cold sky. Yesterday I felt full of energy and life, but it seems to have evaporated over night, leaving me low and dispirited.
Then up high there is a movement, and I see a single solitary seagull wheeling across the bleak expanse of cloud. Suddenly a squirrel catches my eye as it scampers along the top of the fence, and a small flock of starlings fly overhead. A couple of pigeons alight on the pergola, rather early in the year for their amorous courtship. I can hear a bird singing, a blackbird or robin, the sound reaches me even though my window is closed against the chill air. I see green ivy twisting and turning around the lower branches of the old oak tree. The world outside is not dead at all. I begin to come to life myself, and despite the grey skies my spirit lifts a little. To my mind’s eye, the steely grey sky becomes slightly softer, the twigs become more feathery and less harsh, and somehow full of future potential. When I look closely, even in the cold of winter there is life.
This year is quickly slipping away. The sands of time sliding
through the final hour-glass of 2017. We can’t rewind, can’t
live it again. It will be gone forever.
I think of things lost, and things gained. All the missed opportunities. Words I’ve said, and wished I hadn’t. The ideas for blog posts I’ve never got round to writing. All the ‘I wish I hads’, gone for ever. But I can remember good things too, treasured reminiscences. The triumphs, however great or small. The races run and won. The long lazy days of summer and the warm cosy evenings of winter, enshrined in memory.
So 2017 is on the brink of history, and for some it’s already gone and the New Year begun. (Thanks Sister Sue for New Year pictures from Down Under!)
So what hopes do I have for 2018? Peace and good will to all men ………. now where have I heard that before?
And my prayer for 2018 is almost the same as for last year – I’m still working on it!
Please God help me to use this new year better than I did the last. Help me to waste less, and live more. Help me think of others before myself, and be the good friend/parent/sister/grandma/auntie that I would like myself. Help me to be your hands, your feet and your voice to those around me. Amen
I don’t know about you, but my Christmas dinner was perfect. The turkey was cooked to a turn, with succulent chestnut stuffing, crispy potatoes, and lots of tasty veg. Then we had homemade Christmas pudding and delicious orange brandy butter. All the preparations paid off, and everything was ready at just the right time (or very nearly).
The star hovers over Bethlehem, and there is the sound of a baby crying, Mary and Joseph had found the stable in time. The angels filled the sky with their songs, and the shepherds were suitably amazed and rushed straight off to see the baby. The Wise-men, however, are still en route from the East, but we always knew they would be late – they’ve had a long way to come!
And so, the stage is set, the cast is assembled, and the baby born. God’s preparations were impeccable, everything happened at just the right time. And now we watch and wait, because through the birth, and through the life and death of this baby, God will change the world, one person at a time.
Christmas blessings to all my followers, friends and family, and all who read this post. May God shine his light into your darkness, and may He give you peace.
“We’re nearly there. The presents are around the tree. The stuffing is defrosting ready to stuff the turkey. It’s too late to send any more cards, too late to buy any more presents. Time to warm up the mulled wine.”
“We’re nearly there. Time for bed you young ones. We’ve left the sherry and mince-pie out for Santa, so listen out for the reindeer, and no peeking till morning.”
“We’re nearly there Mary. I can see the lights of Bethlehem up ahead.”
“Hurry up Joseph, I think I can feel the baby coming.”
“Hold on a little longer Mary. There’s no room at the inn, but there’s a stable around the back.”
“Nearly there, Gabriel? Are the angel choirs assembled? Are their trumpets tuned? Are they ready to tell the shepherds as soon as the baby arrives?”
“Are you nearly there Wise-men from the East, bringing your gifts?”
“No. A long way to go yet, I think we may be a little late.”
“Wait through the night. It may be dark, but morning will soon be here.”
Christmas preparations have stepped up a gear, the day is fast approaching. The presents are wrapped, the cards written, most of the food tightly packed in the fridge, and the ham is gently steaming on the hob. Family are on their way through the festive traffic jams, so there are still beds to make, and a mountain of other chores to do before they arrive.
Mary and Joseph are getting ready for their journey to Bethlehem. The donkey is saddled, some food packed, and a few simple baby clothes carefully stowed away, just in case.
Far away some oriental gentlemen are looking excitedly at the new star in the night sky. After checking their ancient writings, they have decided to saddle up their camels and follow the star in search of the new king it proclaims.
If yesterday was a day stuck between dark and light, for me today is a day stuck between death and life. We are in Advent, and yesterday I was looking forward to Christmas 2017, but today I am looking back to a very different Christmas in 2006. Eleven years ago today, after a short illness, my husband Geoff at the age of 51, passed from this life to the next, and I felt as though the world had ended. But the world didn’t end, I got used to a new normal, and here I am, eleven years on. My old plans and expectations were changed, I have changed. I have a wonderful daughter and son-in-law, a wonderful son and daughter-in-law, and also now a very wonderful grandson. I miss Geoff of course, even now, but life goes on, albeit different to what I had expected, and life is still good; very good. And as I look forward to this Christmas, I can see in the birth of Jesus that God is still good; very good.
Today is the shortest day of the year for us in the Northern hemisphere. It is the winter solstice. The sun is low in the sky, and it is the first official day of winter. It is a day stuck between dark and light, on the knife-edge between the seasons. This month, this week, every afternoon has been cut short by an ever earlier dusk, sometimes with a flurry of sunset red and gold, but fading quickly into black night. Today maybe the shortest day, but the hope of longer days dawns tomorrow, albeit very slight at first. The see-saw has fallen, light has won again; for a time.
But still we hold our breath and wait, for an everlasting light. A few more days of twinkling Christmas lights will lessen the gloom, for soon we will welcome the Light of the World, who seeks to take away the darkness within us, forever.