2018 has been a strange year, one that has taken me to the edge; not in the ‘mountain climbing’ sense, but in the sense of being stretched to breaking point. This has been caused by a combination of things: a granddaughter with serious mental health problems after the birth of a baby, a personal leg injury that wouldn’t heal for ten long months, and worry about family abroad facing surgery.
There was also major building work on my house, making me feel like my creative heart was being ripped out – I needed to downsize all my craft stuff, but couldn’t bear to ditch things! I had to pack things off to various youth clubs, and find a community pottery workshop to donate my wheel and clay. This is without mentioning the other bits and pieces that I’d religiously hoarded for the last 50 years, saving every mortal thing from refuse collectors and beaches; the problem of always seeing great potential in an object! And yet, working full time running a charity and having foster children meant I never really had the time to follow through on some of the ideas.
As I reflect back over the year, I see the difficulty I have felt in learning to move graciously from one season of my life to another. As a person of faith, I believe in the importance being thankful, and praising God through this thankfulness. We have so many material goods in the Western World and there’s no doubt I can be complacent. It’s healthy to taste a tiny fraction of the strain that asylum seekers / refugees, people from Iran, Syria or Iraq experience as they move from country to country hoping to find a new place to settle. What must it be like to lose everything, and have the garments you are wearing as your only possessions? At Christmas time we see excess, wastage and real extravagance; buying for people who already have so much. At the same time, there are more homeless people, and many families are struggling.
I’m on the way up after some of the hard times of this year, so I now feel I can properly reflect on the importance of thankfulness in everything. Thankfulness is something I connect to faith, and to trusting in God’s view of things. The steadfastness of the hope of the Christmas season, and the simple joy and goodness of life itself over and above material trappings and the niggling pain and distractions present in seasons of life.
This is why my sacred value is thankfulness: it is what I am holding to at the end of a difficult year.