Sunday, 3 January 2016

Reflections on the Season

Boxing Day 2015 and I have reached saturation point. Time to go outside, to be alone for even just a little while. 

Christmas has been Christmas this year, family food and presents, blessing upon blessing all soundtracked by  my small nephew yelling, WOOOF at the dogs. It's hard not to be amazed and almost slightly embarrassed at what I sometimes consider to be the sheer dumb luck of a healthy, wealthy happy family living in a privileged time in a rich culture.

This year has been characterised by death and life, I know that every year features them but this year they feel particularly close to the surface.

Here in the mid winter death seems prominent. Wind rattles across the countryside,  the spot where our family dog was recently buried is still a wound in the middle of the orchard.

My dad and brother dug the hole last month and planted wildflowers on top. The promise of new life but not until the spring. 

Friends lost a beloved son this year, there are no words to reconcile a hurt like theirs. So we haven't tried, instead we have been attempting to take this fragile and wonderful life less for granted in response to the beautiful life of their boy. 

Events in the world this year have also brought death to the forefront. Terror and gunfire writ large in newspapers, the stuff of horrible nightmares. 

Even our baby is bringing us to consider death, wills and guardianship. Our own mortality suddenly coming to the forefront even as she gets stronger.

We've reflected on the way we fear death in this culture. How we so rarely come into contact with it that when we do the shockwaves are crippling. 

Even for those blessed with long life the end is, for the most part sanitised for friends and relations, care homes and palliative solutions to pain, we love to put things in their proper place and in doing so can dull the impact of death. 

Yesterday my father reflected that it was the realisation of his own mortality that was the clear turning point and prompt for him to embrace faith when he was only ten years old. 

Maybe in a world where people are no longer willing or able to consider death we also forget the need to consider what comes next. Forget to consider who or what might be the author of this mess of love and life and pain and what does it all mean anyway?

What significance does the birth, life and death of Jesus have on us today? 

For me, the wonder is that he came to be part of this. All of it. Gestation and bloody labour, puberty, family and community. In short he lived through the pain, frustration and incandescent joy of the human condition. 

Immanuel; It means God is with us. 

And he is. 

This year I have seen people stay firm in this belief through the very worst that death can throw at them and this example allows me to keep engaging in the business of loving this broken world. 

So hears to 2016,

I expect it will be wonderful, and terrible in equal measure and I hope that You and me will be able to embrace both, call it all life and know that We are not alone

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