Category Archives: Life Lessons

Finding a place of calm…and planning a mini-retreat…

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It’s 12.57am, and I can’t sleep. It is not insomnia as such, but more of an underlying anxiety and restless or nervous fear. I know there is nothing to fear. My Great God shelters me under the shadow of His Wing, and covers me with His Almighty protection. However, I have had times over the years of quite troubled sleep, and perhaps these feelings of unease are remnants of that. And yet, my Beautiful God speaks through the darkness to say: “Peace. My Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give unto you, do not let your hearts  be troubled and do not be afraid”. 

He calls us to “consider the birds of the air” who do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns” and yet, our “Heavenly Father feeds them”. I hope the picture above brings you some feelings of calm, peace and joy. This afternoon a friend came over for a cup of tea and a chat, and we spoke about solitude, community and retreat. I told her about the walk in which I took these photographs and how it touched my heart to see that these beautiful birds, this little squirrel were so uniquely cared for by God. Having an interest in photography and a passion for capturing beautiful moments of beautiful things, I am able to hone in on the detail and marvel over the intricacy of a bird’s feathers, the ridges on its feet and tiny claws, and just how wonderfully designed the life around me is. 

In a world where there is so much noise, uncertainty and fear, it can be hard to find peace. There is so much that feels tumultuous, uncertain, frightening, terrifying even for those people living in war zones, areas of unrest, famine, drought, violence, and sadly the list goes on and on… We tend to think of peace as the absence of conflict, of calm and steady waters, of our circumstances all in alignment when all is well. However, this surface calm is not the true Peace that our souls long for. We need an anchor of Peace for our souls, for we are all at some point in our lives tossed upon restless waters. I searched long and hard for years to find peace, and just as a bubble on a stream, such peace was so fragile, and temporary, certain to burst and vanish with the slightest friction. Temporary peace or calm means that we are forever restless in the ongoing pursuit of calm. The same goes for happiness or joy, of love, of acceptance. However, I have found, or been found by, a Peace that Is enduring, and that is a tangible, real and experienced comfort to my soul at the deepest level. This Peace is the very Person of Jesus Christ Himself. He Is with us.

We are called to “seek peace and pursue it”, and I believe the only real way of doing this is in our pursuit of God, and in our resting in Him. However, there is something to be said about drawing aside from a busy world if and when we can, and to take time out, to pursue quiet surroundings, times of focused reflection and sharing, times for creativity, healing, letting go, rejuvenation, of solitude, and of companionship. 

My friend actually came over today as we are planning a spiritual and creative “staycation retreat”, perhaps for three or four days, as something we can pursue and encourage each other through, together. 

The process itself is quite special, as I have not found it a common thing to find people with whom these things can be shared with. 

And so, as we reach the mid-point of a somewhat wintry feeling April, I continue on with my monthly themes – this month’s being hospitality and planning a creative and spiritual retreat. 

I look forward to bringing you on this journey with me as we venture onwards together into quieter, more relaxing terrain. 

xx

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Daily Word Prompt ~ ‘Betrayed’

Daily Prompt~ Betrayed

The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day rise again.

How fitting that the daily word prompt for Good Friday should be ‘betrayed’. This morning I spent some time with the Lord, reading aloud from the Gospel of Luke the events that took place from the Last Supper when Judas Iscariot, who was among Jesus’ 12 disciples dipped bread with Him, and Jesus warned the 12 that there was one among them who would later betray Him, to the events of the betrayal, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ.

The Lord Jesus, knowing He would be betrayed, in a display of pure and perfect sacrificial (agape) love, broke bread with His disciples, and drank wine, symbolising the sacrificial death He would soon die for their and all of our sakes – the only way to Forgiveness with a Holy God. 

I shed some tears as I identified with the other disciples including as most particular noted in the following passages, Simon Peter, whom Jesus told would later deny or reject Him three times before the cock crew in the morning. Peter vehemently expressed that he would NEVER deny the Lord, even if it meant going to death for His sake, yet Jesus knew the hearts of His disciples, those who would betray Him and those who would deny Him and He loved them still, as He loves us, pleading for their forgiveness with a pure and perfect Love greater than all other loves. 

Even when later Judas Iscariot ‘betrayed the Son of Man’ with the greeting of a kiss on the cheek, a sign of honour and respect, in exchange for thirty pieces of silver, and His disciples reacted aggressively, Jesus brought healing, compassion and love. 

Rejection hurts, denial hurts, but the ache of those feelings is perhaps less than the piercing arrows of betrayal, especially from a ‘friend’, for betrayal seems far more calculated than the weakness of denial. If you have ever been betrayed, you know how bad it feels, how much it hurts. Jesus Christ Is no stranger to feelings of betrayal, pain, loneliness, fear, abuse, torment, rejection, hatred, mockery, anguish, misunderstanding, and a broken heart. 

There is absolutely nothing that you have been through, are going through right now, or will go through in the future that He cannot perfectly and deeply understand, and Feel  – for He has experienced it all, and He tasted death for us all that by turning to Him, we might know His perfect love, forgiveness and freedom. 

The wounds of betrayal cut deep, and in our lives it shocks us to the core. Yet, our Lord Jesus Who knowing He would be betrayed into the hands of sinners, *chose* to yield to the Sovereign will of His Heavenly Father, being very God Himself, God Incarnate in the Flesh, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, chose the way of the Cross – which is our only way, only hope of a relationship with the Father, and forgiveness and eternal life – He chose to suffer in my place, and in all of my sufferings I find great comfort in that. 

For once being alone in the world, feeling so alone in the universe, having been found by Jesus Christ, I know a love that heals all wounds, and I have the confidence that He Is One Who will never betray me, never leave or forsake me, never fail me in any way even if I don’t understand things in my life, and never let me down. Even when life doesn’t make sense, He Is unchanging, and His perfect love is the certainty of all of my days 

Even on the Cross, the Man Christ Jesus, facing the deepest betrayal from His own Creation, cried out from the depths of His pure loving righteous heart, ‘Father Forgive them…’. 

He Is One Who has been betrayed to the uttermost, Who understands betrayal, and Who will never, never betray you. He shed His blood to forgive and reconcile me and you with God, to give us a new pure start, hope for this life and eternity, True Love, comfort, peace, and the deepest love and Friendship possible, to give us His righteousness in exchange for taking the wrath of God and the punishment of our sin on Himself. This is why the anguish of the cross that He faced, the betrayal, rejection, abandonment, abuse, mockery, fear, pain, loneliness and darkness that He faced means that Good Friday is so Good for us…because God Is Good, He knows, He loves, He cares, He was betrayed, but for a Higher Purpose – to forgive us, make us pure in His Righteousness, reconcile us to God, in all His Goodness and Love and set us free, and He will never betray – we can be confident of that. 

What LOVE Is This……!!! ❤

 

 

Rethinking Space

Admittedly, friends, it has been a few weeks since we last ventured together in this ‘home improvement’ series, but that’s because I have been busy with the practicalities of this venture, which I hope will bring some benefit and inspiration to you as I share my progress with you. That being said, come and join me in some musings as we together rethink our space…

Throughout the ages, human beings have both influenced and been influenced by the spaces we inhabit. I have no doubt that countless studies have been conducted into the psychology of wellbeing and mental and emotional health in relation to our external environments. How often ‘clichés’ such as ‘a tidy home and a tidy mind’ have depths of truth to them that are well worth exploring as we seek to enhance our well being and the quality of our lives. We might do well to consider the words of John Denver and similar sentiments of many before and after him, “It’s the little things that make a house a home…”. 😉 

I am keenly aware that I myself and anyone reading this (presumably) are blessed with a ridiculous amount of choice with regards to how we live and what we do with our space, in a way that despite our limitations, many others across our little planet find far beyond their grasp to even hope of experiencing. 

Presumably (and please forgive me if my presumptions are inaccurate) if you are reading this, and are a blogger yourself, your concerns relating to choice and living conditions have nothing to do with whether you will be able to maintain a place of shelter, how far you have to walk to the nearest well to obtain safe drinking water, and how many people are able to cram into that one room in your ‘house’ that your entire family and perhaps others have to sleep in. 

Put that way, we may find ourselves asking whether it is selfish, arrogant, excessive or indulgent to make much of the luxurious spaces (whether we had previously considered ‘our lot’ in that way or not) that we are so fortunate enough to inhabit. 

Well, sad to say, it can be all of the above, but equally so, rethinking our space and being faithful ‘stewards’ of what we are fortunate enough to have can have a positive impact on our well being and on the lives of those around us. 

Of course, everyone is different, and some people work well amid their ‘organised chaos’ which incorporates ‘systems’ that only they can understand. Having experience of depression, and the resultant feelings of being overwhelmed by untidiness and lack of order, I am aware that our environments and living spaces can influence our mental well being in terms of contributing, whether rightly or wrongly, to our perceptions and feelings that we are ‘unable to cope’. Conversely, establishing systems, knowing that there is ‘a place for everything and everything is in its place’ makes daily living so much more productive, less stressful, and easier to manage. Knowing that there is a place for my keys and knowing exactly where that place is (and so on for each type of item I have) and that it will always be there lessens, even marginally, my anxiety, my stress levels, and impacts my attitude as I step out of my home into a new day at work or being in contact with the outside world in some way, and means that I am better able to focus on doing things well and communicating well and patiently with people, rather than stressfully and hurriedly struggling through. 

I have found that breaking through the barriers of overwhelm that my big declutter and spring clean initially brought on while being surrounded in a mountain of chaos, has given way to the establishing of order, calmness, happiness to be in my space, which in turn makes me more available to open my doors to the people I love, to be hospitable, to reach out and not only have a place for me to rest, but for others to enjoy, be built up in, and for us all to go out a little more positively and with some clearer thoughts as we tackle the bigger issues in the world whether that be in our jobs, families, relationships or being more aware of others around us. 

Whether we allow our thinking about our space and what we do with it to become a self indulgent occupation, or something more positive has a lot to do with our attitudes, and where we place our hearts and our desires. 

I believe that homekeeping is an art, and even though I live alone, it does impact the people in my life, and if I am so blessed to one day have a family of my own, I believe that striving to maintain a peaceful and calming environment that I haven’t always had is important for creating an atmosphere of growth, wellbeing and good communication as well as orderliness, inspiration and functionality. 

But it’s all very well to be philosophical about it, but what do we do when we find things so difficult? If you have been with me for a while, you’ll be familiar with some of my earlier blog posts in this series, however if you are new, *Welcome* and I hope you find some inspiring starting points to make progress on your own journey in this regard in my series on Home & Lifestyle which you can find in my main menu. 

I will, little by little show you what I have accomplished and learned so far, including some photos along the way. So for now, here is a little glimpse of a space that I have rethought….how does it make you feel to consider what was before, and what has come after? 🙂 Much love. xx

Kitchen – beneath worktop space, before & after (please note that this space has been further updated with the addition of adhesive tiles, & some other decorative and functional pieces…the basket is used as a pantry storage area):

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Staying Motivated…

All content (c) copyright – ‘Livingfully2017.wordpress.com’ – Life as it happens to be. birds

I’m guessing if you’re reading this blog post, that you may be looking for a little nudge in the right direction for plans or projects that you have either started or hope to embark upon. 

Seeking out motivation in itself is a good start. But how do you keep on going, or take those first steps to action, especially if the task or tasks ahead seem a bit daunting and overwhelming to you?

One of the key elements to finding and maintaining motivation is to strategize. Your goal or goals may be many and varied. Perhaps you are seeking motivation to tackle a home project such as decluttering, reorganising, renovating or tidying in some way. Maybe you are thinking more along the lines of project management, planning and organising an event, going on holiday, raising money for charity, hosting a party, meal planning and preparation, writing a book, a blog or pursuing a hobby. Whatever it is that you would like to take on or persevere with, strategizing is a key element to any such endeavour. 

I have come up with the following ideas to help both you and me to get started and keep going! I hope you find them useful 🙂 

S – tart with having an idea in mind of what you want to do, create, pursue, achieve or accomplish.

T – ake note of the key elements that this endeavour will entail. Initially you may have to use quite ‘broad brushstrokes’ to get an idea of the main elements to your project, but then break things down into smaller, specific, more manageable steps, and make sure to write them down as this really does help the brain to process and work in stages and will help enable you to overcome any feelings of being overwhelmed or out of your depth. You can do it! 🙂

R – efine these steps as you get a clearer idea of the practicalities of your pursuit, and keep refining these as you continue. And always write it down (preferably in one place)! 🙂 This is key. If you are feeling a little more advanced and are getting to know your own ways of working better, then add timescales and ‘deadlines’ to work towards that you know are achievable, allowing a bit of leeway for other things that might unexpectedly encroach upon your time.

A – ctively pursue inspiration and seek to learn from others who may have more experience or a different way of looking at things. The internet makes this so much easier to do, and you will never be short of places to find motivation. But look beyond the internet as well – talk to people, research in other ways, explore, be creative!

T – ake time out for yourself. The earlier stages of breaking down your main goal into smaller, more manageable steps and ‘mini goals’ will hopefully have given you a sense of accomplishment and an ability to enjoy the process and not just think about the end result that you are aiming for. These mini goals might be something small such as making a list, taking inventory, writing a plan, or making a small purchase to help with the project. ‘Tick’ these off along the way, or record them as you go, this way you will be able to see progress. And if or when you begin to feel overwhelmed, unclear as to what to do next, or simply tired or uninspired, then just take a break. Take time out, do something relaxing that you enjoy, and then go back over the earlier steps to bring you back into a more motivated frame of mind which will help you to feel more energised and refreshed to tackle the next steps with greater clarity, focus and determination.

E – njoy what you are doing! Be mindful of the process, remind yourself why this is important to you, think about the opportunity you have at hand, be grateful, and cheerful as you do each small task in your pursuit of your greater goal or goals.

G – ive something back. There are so many ways that you can find of doing this as you pursue your own projects. For example, if you are doing a decluttering project at home, perhaps you can give some things away to people less fortunate who may be able to make use of what you no longer need, or what you have not made use of for a while. Whatever your endeavour, you can also give back or ‘pay it forward’ by way of sharing advice, the experience of what you have learned along the way, and seek to help someone else who may be on a similar journey. You can blog about your experiences, talk to and encourage other people, give your time, or give to others opportunities, something you have created, or the gift of your company. If you have been working towards a tidy home, maybe you can share with others by having a friend over. If you are making something maybe crafts, knitting, artwork, maybe you can give some of these as gifts, raise money for charity, or teach someone your skills. If you are learning to cook, share your food with someone. If you are skydiving, share your expertise, fundraise, or…well….the sky is the limit!! 😉

I – nspire others. You uniquely can do this in a way that no one else can….and I don’t have a ‘formula’ for how you can be your amazing, inspirational self – you just do your thing, friend! 🙂

Z – ealously pursue excellence in each task you do, be it great or small. And do it with all your heart, being thankful that you are able to do what you do in the first place.

E – ndeavour to continue your learning, growing, goal setting and sharing with excellence and passion which will be a blessing not only to yourself but to those around you and further afield who your life may touch.

Much love. xx

Unsung Heroes & Lessons from a Snow Storm…

There is someone you know or have heard of, who you know deserves a medal. A medal that they will never receive. They go above and beyond the call of duty, beyond the work that they are paid for, or perhaps for no pay at all, quietly, with regularity, motivated perhaps by deep values of compassion, faith, personal integrity or a love and concern for other people. These unsung heroes and heroines work diligently behind the scenes, receiving little praise, and yet they are the ones that remind the vulnerable that they are cared for, keep people safe, and come to the rescue in times of need. Perhaps this person will never receive a medal, but is there some way that you can encourage them and let them know how wonderful you think they are? 

For as their many little and more significant acts of kindness touch the lives of others, so too your own acts of kindness and gratitude to them may make a huge difference for them to know that they are noticed and appreciated. 

I wonder if there is someone on your mind right now? And are you thinking of a gesture, or maybe a few prompts could help to inspire you to find your own personal way to say that ‘thank you’ that they might otherwise not receive? Perhaps this could come by way of a card, a personal letter, a box of chocolates, a visit, a message, a telephone call, an anonymous note, a gathering of appreciative friends or colleagues, or simply a kind and gentle word of gratitude. These all make a difference. 

So where, you might be wondering, does the connection with snow storms come in? Well, as I write I am somewhat ‘snowed in’ and like many others in my city, and all across the UK, I am off work due to the ‘snow day’, and the red and amber weather warnings to only travel if absolutely essential. All train services here are cancelled until further notice, buses are mostly cancelled and although I walked to and from work the day before yesterday, it took over 45 minutes each way, and the conditions are considered unsafe. That and the pain in my legs and advice from the Government, Met Office and other sources to stay indoors, has resulted in me taking a couple of annual leave days, like many others, until the storm passes. 

However, walking 45 minutes to work in the snow, given that I am fairly young and able bodied is hardly a commendable feat although it may be appreciable. What is commendable are the many doctors, nurses, care workers and others who have put their care and duties towards others before their own. The snow and storms and icy blasts have brought tragedy in the UK in the past couple of days. Over a dozen people have died from the very young to the elderly due to getting caught in the bad weather. A young child of 7 died, and a man in his late 60s drowned after trying to rescue his dog from a frozen lake. An elderly woman in her late 70s was found by a passer by, frozen to death, lying near a stationary vehicle ~ it was thought that she had been confused and wandering about outside before she died. There have been road traffic accidents, and perhaps a whole host of other situations that have as yet not come to light, or to the attention of the mainstream media. Today, it was reported in the news that a Scottish care worker who was known and respected in her profession for over 15 years was found dead in the snow as she had been walking to fulfil the duties of caring for her clients in their homes. A homeless man was found frozen to death in his tent. However, in the bleakness of this unusual ‘Spring’, there has been beauty also.

Not only the sublime beauty of nature’s splendour, but also in the kindness of strangers and friends and the resourcefulness and creativity of individuals. Drivers were stuck in their vehicles on motorways, some for over 12 to 15 hours, and strangers gathered supplies of hot drinks, food, snacks and even warm milk to feed a baby and walked through the snow to bring some practical comfort and words of kindness to those who were having to spend the night on the roads. Churches and event halls opened their doors to provide emergency shelter for homeless people. Charity workers went out into the streets to let homeless people know how and where they could get help. Neighbours with 4 x 4s drove doctors and nurses to their place of work. Medical health professionals chose to sleep overnight in hospitals to ensure that there was cover, and to relieve their colleagues, and provide patient care. Children helped their parents bring food to those who were vulnerable. Neighbours checked in on elderly people who were alone in order to make sure that they were ok. Trade unions spoke up for those who were being forced to work in inclement conditions including delivery drivers and riders (as many fast food deliveries in cities are now done by people on bicycles carrying the boxed food on their backs as they ride), who are putting themselves at risk at the demands of their employers. People have been finding ingenious ideas to get around or make the most of the snow by snowboarding down streets, skiing into work or simply having an icy blast with snowball fights and sledging. Photographers have captured some of nature’s beauty to inspire others. Neighbours have helped parents with childcare arrangements and family and friends and communities have ‘pitched in’ to help one another. Rail workers, council employees, gritters and others work through the cold days and nights to clear roads, railway tracks and to get systems up and running again for the rest of us. 

We so often hear the news of terrible events, tragedies, evil, abuse, injustice and violence. However, every so often something seems to bring out the best in people and those smaller yet no less significant stories come to the fore. And yet, day in and day out, and through the night many quiet and unsung heroes and heroines including children go about their tasks with love and care and commitment in expectation of no reward. Perhaps their reward is a higher purpose and one that shines forth in times like this where they can clearly be seen to be doing it for more than just money or human applause. Perhaps you are one of those people. Perhaps you feel that you are not, and wonder if you are making any difference in anyone’s life. 

Well, let me encourage you right now, that you are so significant, and your life so powerful, and each act of kindness however small is of so much importance. Maybe you are not saving lives, but perhaps a word of encouragement could result in a life saved for someone. Maybe you are not able to do the more ‘hands on’ frontline work, but perhaps you can encourage someone who is or help in some small way. Perhaps the greatest ways you can help are by prayer, small acts of kindness each day, and even through your own blog as you put something encouraging into the world for others to read and think  about and share. 

We all need these unsung heroes, but unsung heroes need encouragers too. And maybe, just maybe, an encourager is what you are called on to be today. 

Much love. xx

Expect the unexpected! What are the certainties in your life? …

February, being the shortest month, has swiftly drawn to a close, and March ~ the month in which we expect spring to have sprung ~ has promptly arrived.

However, here in the United Kingdom, as anyone who is familiar with our obsession with talking about the weather will know, spring, summer and in fact all four seasons can be a little unpredictable. At least *that* is something we can be certain of!

Here is a delightful scene for the first day of spring!

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Snow and sunshine has graced the first morning of spring. However, despite how pretty this scene looks, the Met Office has declared a ‘Red’ weather warning since yesterday – the highest level – with possible further disruptions and risk to life as the ‘Beast from the East’ as the Siberian chill and moving weather patterns has been termed gives way to what the Spanish and Portuguese meteorologists have named ‘Storm Emma’, coming up from the South. Emma and the Beast! What a combination!

This gently beguiling scene veils the travel disruption, cancelled trains, hundreds of commuters stuck in airports and ‘stranded’ in their cars on the motorway for over 12 hours since last night, early office closures and increased call outs to emergency services. For a cold country perhaps we are a little ‘light weight’ when it comes to dealing with the varying forms of precipitation we intermittently face. Perhaps Canadians and New Yorkers and people from other regularly snowy countries and cities would laugh us to scorn at our inability to take such storms and snow flurries in our stride. However, the snow has brought out a brighter side to things. The crisp cold air, and beautiful natural scenes of trees and parks blanketed in white, the snow ball fights, gleeful children during their school closures and people sledging and having fun have all been something to bring a smile to the heart.

However, as much as we Brits talk about the weather, the true essence of these musings is a little deeper than the 18 centimetres of snow this city saw at one point. As the snow thaws in the sun, and seasons change, we realise too that our lives are passing, fleeting and as much as we long for the predictability and familiarity of seasons clearly demarcated as they ‘should’ be, our lives are actually often windswept by unexpected change, unpredictable events, uncertainty and consequently anxiety. We strive to pull out all the stops to regain control such as shovelling away the snows of doubt and worry, hoping that with enough effort we can clear our own paths and watch the unknowns melt away. Perhaps you are a seasoned warrior of change, or maybe a seasoned worrier with every uncertainty. Maybe you thrive on the adrenaline rush that living in the moment and embracing the unknown brings. However, regardless of your temperament, I believe that as human beings, at the core we do need a root of certainty in our lives. Not the certainty of known events or situations or happenings as such, but something even deeper and more fundamental. We need to know, deep in our souls, that when the storms of life come as inevitably and sometimes without much forecast or warning they do, that we have something to anchor to, something that will sustain us in our deepest uncertainty, and something far beyond our meagre efforts to dig out a clear pathway for ourselves.

Do you ever think about such things when life is going smoothly for you? Do you find yourselves wondering what will hold you when you are in the eye of your life’s storm? Perhaps you are yet to weather any severe or significant storms in your life as yet, but how can you be certain that you never will? Perhaps you have weathered many difficult experiences in your life and wish that the storm would soon pass and the sun would shine again. And maybe through your adversities you have gleaned great insights, or maybe you feel defeated, discouraged or broken hearted.

Your story, your life matters. It matters because you matter. But as you make your way through one changing season of your life to the next, what is your anchor? For me, through many storms, some longer lasting than others, I have found that nothing I can do can truly anchor my own soul, and the anchor which holds me, the rock on which I know I have a sure foundation in life is the Rock of Christ. Tried and tested, and found Faithful through every storm, and in the sunshine seasons of life too. And ultimately my Certainty and Hope beyond death.

What do you hold to? What or who holds you? Do you have certainty in your uncertainty? I would love to hear your thoughts, but if you’d prefer not to comment, then I hope you can find a few quiet moments to ponder and reflect upon your life, your uncertainties and what you have knowingly or subconsciously put your hope and trust in to hold you through all of life, as you embark upon this new season and first day of ‘Spring’.

Much love. xx

Nature’s constant and silent lesson to accept the season of life that you are in…

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Today after work, I took down my Christmas tree. I know, it’s January 23rd, and for some of you that’s a ridiculously long time to keep the tree up. Aside from the fact that the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ can’t be confined within one single day, and should be celebrated in our hearts all year around, I also happen to live in a 10th floor flat / apartment, and therefore enjoy a relative degree of anonymity and don’t have to worry about what my neighbours think, as they can’t see into my living room! And furthermore, I have felt the need and desire to hold on to the cosiness of the Christmas and festive season for as long as I can due to the fact that it’s mid-January and in my part of the world we’ve been experiencing snow days and the kind of weather that makes you want to hibernate, but alas, work beckons and necessitates leaving the house. So to have a cosy Christmassy space has been a comfort to me, as I hide away from the wind and the rain. I am someone who keeps my fairy lights up all year round, the soft yellow-white ones that add a little touch of comfort to the atmosphere of my home…

However, today was the day to take the Christmas tree down, pack it away in its box and begin to take the decorations down too. I found myself feeling a little ‘blue’ as it were, because although January, a new month, season and year has begun, the dark days and nights have not yet lifted, which makes it harder to say goodbye to the lights and colours and enchantment of Christmastime. 

I am fortunate enough to now live in a city where every January there is a musical festival running from around 19th January to 4th February, with several live music events, many of which are free to attend, attracting talent not only from home, but also internationally. It is a real cultural ‘pick me up’ during the dark and damp start of the year that we often experience. As I put my tree away I had some music playing in the background to remind me of this, by way of encouragement. I also reminded myself of the One Constant Source in Life, that Is God. And I found myself contemplating the lessons that nature, with unswerving regularity teaches us with every passing season and year of life: to accept the season of life that we are in. When I think about it, I realise that with the changing of seasons comes a blossoming, and flourishing like the leaves on a tree, that then wither and perish (you may relate to my reference here), giving way once more to new life, to seasons of waiting, of growth and of blossoming and fading as the cycle continues. There is struggle in nature, but not the same ‘fight’ that we humans often inflict upon ourselves. There is a silent, constant acceptance of this natural change, as one season fades or bursts vibrantly into the next, inhabiting its space in time for what it is…something that too, in its time, will pass and change once more. 

And this is a lesson for me, for us, as well. One that it seems, every few months, we need reminded of, perhaps because we are so slow to learn. Life has seasons of joy and sorrow, and although we may enjoy one season more than another, we must let things unfold and take their course by accepting the season that we are in. Perhaps you are grieving, and your only comfort is that this too will pass. Or maybe you have experienced a wonderful season and want desperately to hold on to it for fear of change or disappointment or boredom, or the unknown. Let it open up and bloom into the fullness of life for such a time as this. And make it your priority to learn how to be rooted and built up, standing firm in season, accepting and being present in the life you are living now, knowing that things will inevitably change, but making the most of each precious moment, learning your deep lessons, and creating precious memories along the way…