As is my usual practice, I have taken off the Sunday that follows the Christmas celebrations, and this morning had a very long lie-in (at least by my standards) with the kitties for company (hence the photo).
It's a well known truth that, the older we get, the faster times passes, not least as each year is a smaller proportion of our lives than the one before. This year seems to have flown by especially quickly, at least for me, being full of good things (and a few sad ones) along the way.
December 31st is always going to be significant in my personal calendar, as in 2010 it was the day of my final dose of chemo. It felt a huge achievement to have completed it without any delays, and I was, I think, justifiably pleased with how I'd travelled up 'Mount Chemo'. There is always a little pause to remember that moment, the friends who met me with congratulatory flags, and all that has been part of that ongoing story. If remembering absent friends is part of New Year, I have way too many of them who I met on this unchosen journey, and whose memory I cherish. Seven years later, I am well, healthy and happy, at the end of what has been, for me at least, a good year.
Seven weddings - each very different, as was my 'role' on each occasion. Beginning in March with my bc friend E in a gorgeous country house, then in May conducting the ceremony for J&C in the University of Glasgow chapel before attending my Godson A's marriage to A in the Lakes. Next it was to St Marys' Cathedral, Glasgow to share in celebrating with P&R in June, before a trip to Cambridge for that of my niece, A to Y. September and another country house, where I was the 'legal bit' to enable a minister form Derby to lead the service for A&A. Finally in October a very long-standing friend, S, married G in a simple civil ceremony where I was invited to be a witness. Lots of happy memories of special days, and hoping that all will discover deeper love and lasting contentment in the future.
Church-wise, it has been a good, if at times challenging, year. I've been so proud of how everyone has adapted to meeting in the hotel, with the periodic room changes and even venue changes, and all that has brought with it. It has been lovely welcome several new folk into covenanted membership, especially as two are in their twenties; and lovely too, to have more to look forward to.
I've really got a lot out of leading worship this year, especially since the beginning of the summer, when in response to feedback at our spring Away Day we have tried to be more clearly focused in our themes.
The Heroes of Faith series was very well received, as was the spin-off evening service on Mental Health.
'Animal, vegetable and mineral' as an umbrella to look at creation allowed us to explore evolution, the importance of every plant and the wonder that we are stardust. This led nicely into a month-long harvest focus culminating in our autumn Away Day to Glasgow Science Centre. Exploring homelessness in November was salutary, and also saw very generous giving to our annual appeal for Glasgow City Mission.
After a very intellectually stimulating autumn, it was fun to spend Advent thinking about angels. The stories people shared of their angel encounters were humbling; the joy of sharing knitted angels was palpable; the traditional lessons and carols beautiful (I'm allowed to say that cos it mostly came out of a book).
Leading a joint service on Christmas Day had me quite nervous... so many things that I could foul up. In the end it was a joyful and joyous hour of songs, stories and smiles. Using the analogy of a family Christmas dinner where we try to accommodate everyone's preferences, needs and foibles, allowed me to realise that what could have felt like 'a lowest common denominator muddle' could in fact be wonderful, slightly chaotic celebration of Communion - and it was. Everything from the toddler who grabbed the bread roll (to the horror of her mother) to the two adults who asked for a blessing, via the chancel crossing to reach the preferred 'wine' station, all was full of gentleness and love - a very wonderful privilege.
There is so much else I could write about - church-wise, family-wise, cat-wise or even me-wise - which is surely a sign of how blessed I am. This time last year I was a tired, grumpy and, to a degree disillusioned, Menospausal Monster; this year I am still tired, but am content, settled, encouraged and looking forward to what lies ahead.
So, if you have survived this far, thank you much for reading, not just this, but other stuff I've shared this year. And let me wish you, and all those you love, a happy, healthy and hope-filled 2018.