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Advent Memories...

As I prepared for last night's reflection group I decided to listen to the 'sing-a-long' CD from Merrily to Bethlehem (new edition!).  As I re-read stuff about the emergence of Christmas as a celebration linked to the Roman adaptation of the Persian 'Mithras', with Sol Invicta, just after the winter solstice, I heard a familiar tune, and instinctively started to sing along.  Alas I can't find a sung recording, but the music on an organ, can be heard here:

"Holy Child, how still you lie, safe the manger, soft the hay, faint across the eastern sky breaks the dawn of Christmas day..."


In my mind I was the nine-nearly-ten year-old child at a new school after a house move, who learned this song...

Catriona Age 9.jpg I'm a pretty unsentimental person - or so I like to think - but as I sang along, my voice cracked, tears flowed and I wondered what happened to that little girl...  Life has, on the whole, been good, and I am fortunate to be back in excellent health, with a fulfilling role, and many loving, supportive friends as well as strong family ties.  But forty years... where did they go?

That little girl was ever-so earnest, a stalwart rule-follower, an embryonic follower of Jesus, a model pupil, a big sister... so much has changed, and nothing has changed.

If I'm honest, I'm glad she could not know what her future held, both good and bad, happy and sad.  But in a way I almost miss her... she had an innocence now gone, a warm inclusivity that has been compromised, a sense of social justice lost along the way.

001a.jpgForty years on, I want to care about (in)justice, I try, and fail, with inclusivity, my discipleship is still faltering and less than I would love it to be.  As for innocence, it feels long gone, facing one's own mortality strips away naivety (not the same as innocence) and forces reality and uncertainty and finitude to be accepted for what they are.

And yet, I still dare hope, still sing the songs, still trust that it is true...

"Holy child, whose birthday brings, shepherds from their fields and fold, angels choirs and Eastern kings, myrrh and frankincense and gold..."


  • I will be 50 in 4 months' time, and am likewise wondering where the time has gone...

  • She's still there within you, Catriona - a bit scarred by life but still recognisable.

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