'What I do is me: for that I came.' G M Hopkins

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

You'll never walk alone

To love and to cherish
They’ve arrived – the official wedding photos taken by the multi-talented Ken Haddock! Looking at them brings back all the happy memories filled with joy, celebration and thankfulness. To the groom’s great surprise, as the wedding party turned at the front of the church Craig Skene began to sing Liverpool FC’s anthem and Bryony and Stephen walked down the aisle to the congregation singing, You’ll never walk alone (apart, that is, from the ardent Man U fans).

We wish them many happy years walking together and with God.

Veneration of the brother
Beautiful bride

To us!
Mr and Mrs Bradley

Mulled Time

Nothing symbolises the end of the Christmas festivities better than the sorry sight of the large stainless steel saucepan (a relic from school plays past) which we use for mulling wine with sugar and spices waiting, forlorn, beside the back door. Soon it will be consigned to a dark corner of the garage, where it will gather dust until required again later this year.

To mull is to think over, to ponder, muse on, weigh and reflect. In this the first few days of the year, I throw all the memories and experiences of the last twelve months into the melting pot and see what rises to the surface.

The scum floating on the top smells of regret: missed opportunities, things said which I wish unsaid, disappointments with myself and my failed endeavours to do better this year. At times I am haunted by the verse in the Bible which says that if a woman knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for her it is sin. So for sins of commission and omission, sorrow.

Swirling in there are also the orange slices of bitter sweet times: great opportunities which were also really challenging, like going to India with Saphara. I am also thinking of friendships which have brought pain because of serious illness and loss.

But mostly there is the aroma of joy. It has been a year of rejoicing and celebration and we are deeply thankful, especially for a wonderful wedding, double degree success and a baby conceived in Mozambique.

And so what of the future? In January we are facilitating a course on Parenting Teenagers. They say that you don’t know how well you have done as parents until you see your own children parenting. As our eldest daughter is pregnant, we thought we’d better get in quickly.  A friend wrote on our Christmas card that becoming a grandparent is one thing in life that is better than they said it would be. I am so excited.

Being a grandmother will confirm me as middle-aged. I like to believe that I have at least one more big adventure in me so I am definitely open to fresh challenges. As I face the blank page of a new year I am hoping to find my voice, whatever lies ahead.

At this time of the year I often think about the story of George VI’s broadcast to the empire on 25 December 1939. The year ahead looked bleak, both personally and nationally. The king was suffering from lung cancer and the world was on the brink of war:

A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings continued struggle, we shall remain undaunted.

He then went on to quote from Minnie Haskins’ poem, The Gate of the Year:

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’

And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’