Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas Closedown

Well, this is it. My last offering before I do the Christmas thing and by virtue of which I will step away from my screen and draw closer to the Baybee Jeezus. 

What a vile year it has been (for me at least). I have acquired health disorders like they were going our of fashion and I cannot now drive a car. I am far greyer than I was in 2012 and I have discovered that more than a few of the priests I looked up as a child were bound over by some destructive behaviours. Yes, I will be glad when 2013 ends and 2014 begins as there is always that due sense of a new beginning. 

But I must not be too hasty. I look back on the last twelve months and yes, the headlines were, as with the newspapers themselves, the paradigmatic bad times where I have failed, been failed, or witnessed the failure of others. That life is not the headlines is also reinforced for me. Actually, if I am honest, there have been some cherished moments of profound and God-given grace that I must surely regard this 2013 as nothing less than a blessing. 

One of the harder parts of this year for me is that it robbed me, for a time, of the optimism that I have for life and that colours my perspective. The hues seen in the light became polarised and its greyness was amplified as a result. I can normally cope with whatever flies my way and have become resilient. The thing with losing the colour of life is that when it returns, it is all the more vivid and welcome. The thing with being exposed to life's shadow is that one is introduced to an aspect of living hitherto unknown. Another blessing. I 'see' people altogether more clearly, and then too the society in which I am a member and called to serve. In some very clear ways, my vocation within my priesthood has changed - and I think for the better. I have learned, perhaps a little late, that I am called and ordained to be a priest and not an ecclesiastical administrator; a spiritual person not a task-orientated person. Indeed, I think of those folk in the Bible who seem to be a little hard-done by from my point of view - the blind-man or else dear Simeon. One's calling was to have his sight restored so that others may see; the other to wait until his dying breaths in a state of constant expectancy, to bear witness to the Christ-child and attest for the rest of humanity the nature of the miracle in his arms. The simple fact seems to be that God uses the dark as well as the light to enhance and edify us - to draw us close and to show us the better way.

I love Christmas for all the reasons that you do, but there are magical moments that do much to lift me higher. Standing before a church filled beyond safe capacity with Christmas-Eve kids, all wearing the precious mask of eager expectation; falling into bed after the Midnight Mass and after a single-malt (my own personal relaxation ritual); the kids' faces when they wake on Christmas morning; closed shop-fronts; awful music and choral interwoven everywhere; and that time on Christmas night when I am wrapped up in the arms and legs of my family as we watch some appalling television through the unique and golden Christmas light that always seems to permeate the room each year. Wonderful. Perfect. Gracious. 

So, thank you to you and thank you to 2013. To you for bearing with my relative absence but still coming back when I deign to write (and often in a grumpy state I notice); and to 2013 for showing me more of a life that I thought I had sorted but in fact had hardly scratched the surface of. 

May I wish you, and all those you love, a peaceful and blessed Christmas. May your 2014 be a time of the richest of God's blessings. See you next year!


  1. Hari Om
    Thank you and wishing you and yours all that is precious for the season in return. Blessings and Love, YAM xx

  2. 2nd attempt blogger ate the first one.
    I am so very glad you appear to be finding your way out of the tunnel, and that as you so rightly say, the lights are so much brighter when you emerge.
    May it shine on you and yours perpetually.
    A happy, peaceful and blessed Christmas to you Jo and the girls.

  3. Wishing you the same, David. May your Christmas be joyous and your New Year filled with God's endless possibilities.

  4. Sometimes we need to step back from stuff and when our health and well being is at stake, than wisdom dictates that we listen to the voice that's telling us that we can't cope, whether it's our own voice or that of another.

    Depression can hit anyone at anytime. Having suffered that black pit or tunnel, as others describe it here, myself, I can attest to your words that when it lifts, it's like a curtain going up or the net curtains being taken away to allow you to see the world without blurring and as you describe in vivid colour.

    I know that we still need to be on guard against the 'black cloud' that I'd describe it returning, by taking measures to protect our selves against the burn out and the demands that seem to overwhelm us - the plain answer needs to be NO or if possible, delegation to those who are either willing to help or may not even know that they are willing to help - talent spotting perhaps.

    The saying that no man is an Island is so correct - we need others to share our lives, our burdens and while we can rely on Jesus to take the spiritual load the admin burden and getting stuff done is much better as a shared task. We can't hope to do it all, and even if we do, we're probably neglecting something important within ourselves, and in your case, perhaps within your flock.

    Prayers for you and the family and for your congregation that they will come forward eagerly to support the ministry of the baptized, not just leaving you to get on with it. [*]



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...