Thoughts on 2016

It’s been quite a year – my first full year of studying in the beautiful place I now call home! Having had some time to just reflect on all that 2016 has been about has left me feeling that, most of all, this year I’ve been taught something of life’s indeterminacy. For this reason a verse I read the other day, in James 4, sat well with me. It goes:

14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Perhaps this seems a little over-dramatic, but I truly believe what it points to – the absolute transiency of all that we see. This year has been tumultuous at points, and I have experienced shock at the unexpectedness of some of the different events that have happened, in a way that I never have before. I’ve sensed and known transiency. I can now identify with the feeling of ‘having the rug pulled out from under your feet’; the feeling you’re left with when something you didn’t even realise that you were regarding as a certainty, collapses. I’ve also borne witness to the pain of this world in a new and, what feels like, a more vivid way. Even just simply, in an increased awareness and consciousness of simple moments – like being in Sainsbury’s early in the morning and watching the guy behind me buying a single bottle of vodka. All is not well.

However, as Julian of Norwich said, all shall be well. And amidst the uncertainty and seeming precariousness of the year has been the discovery of a joy that I didn’t know as intimately before. There is such beauty in knowing that if I’d made a list on Friday 1st January 2016 of what I thought was in store, none of my predictions would have come true, and there’s also such beauty in learning dependency in One who is greater.

This year I have been to places I didn’t think I’d ever be going, developed close friendships that I didn’t know would ever exist, grown to love albums of music that were yet to be released and learned lessons I didn’t know needed learning. The happiest thing of all is that I feel like I’ve ended the year in a better place than where I started back in January. I’ve lived more. What a blessing.

As we move into 2017, my prayer is that in one year’s time I’d look back at the 365 days currently before me and be able to say exactly the same thing as I just have in the paragraph above.

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One Particular 2016 Moment

This is me appearing on the stage of the Corpus Playroom as part of a sketch show called Crazy Walls. I was picked out as a volunteer a few different times because I was sat in the front row – this photo was taken at the end when I was picked to be part of a ‘Bread Ceremony’ and was asked to scatter breadcrumbs when the cue was given. I did as asked with such gusto that one of the comedic duo performing asked me to stop ([worriedly] ‘I think that’s enough now’).

I loved that evening. It was very last minute in that Umang and I had wanted to go and see Fantastic Beasts at the cinema but it was sold out (?!) and this was the alternative we found at short notice – and then Lucy and Dom decided to come along too. It was also the evening I picked up three Dutch girls who were going to crash on my floor for a couple of nights whilst they were competing in a debating competition. So this photo Dom took happily reminds me of the wonderful nature of spontaneous plans and where they can take you, my absolute delight and glee when presented with breadcrumbs to fling in the air, and the bemusement/embarrassment of my watching friends.

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One Particular 2016 Melody

A couple of weeks ago I went to a Singalong event with Tabitha, conducted by John Rutter (I’m a fan). There I was introduced to the carol ‘Jesus Christ the Apple Tree’, by Elizabeth Poston. And, ah, it’s so good!

It has both a beautiful melody, and a beautiful meaning behind the lyrics. Please go and listen to it if you haven’t come across it before. (It uses only the good notes!)

The tree of life my soul hath seen
Laden with fruit and always green
The tree of life my soul hath seen
Laden with fruit and always green
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree

His beauty doth all things excel
By faith I know but ne’er can tell
His beauty doth all things excel
By faith I know but ne’er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought
And pleasure dearly I have bought
For happiness I long have sought
And pleasure dearly I have bought
I missed of all but now I see
‘Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I’m weary with my former toil
Here I will sit and rest a while
I’m weary with my former toil
Here I will sit and rest a while
Under the shadow I will be
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit does make my soul to thrive
It keeps my dying faith alive
This fruit does make my soul to thrive
It keeps my dying faith alive
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

Here’s to 2017!

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