Christmas 2014

Tears of sadness, tears of joy, too.  Some snippets where we've had the privilege to have been close by in times of rejoicing and sorrow this year.

Celebrating the 102 years of life and the joys of Terry Dubois, Gran Gran to Sophie, Matthew & Andrew, was tinged with the awareness that Aunt Roz was so very unwell; her funeral followed only weeks later.  Saying farewell to Ray, the gentlest of uncles, brought memories of those whose lives were spent devoted to the best and most selfless things.  Catching up on all these years brought many moments with beautiful people across the wider family and bringing the ongoing delight of being able to spend more time with those 'left behind', sharing many a tear and smiling at the sweeter memories.

After a welcome introduction to the working world of statistics in Wallingford, Sophie moved back home to her friends in Sheffield, joining the DfE.  Helping out at Spring Harvest and New Wine as part of the worship and youth teams at Philly, she's happily settling into an over-busy life, strengthening friendships and making the best of new friends.  Matthew has been running the daytime show on the local radio, with occasional slots on drivetime.  Andrew has engaged himself in decorating and gardening, continuing to help out at Messy Church and occasionally singing in the Ad Hoc choir; he was given the opportunity to work for the local Chamber of Trade as part of the Tourism Working Group. For his 21st, he was on the podium with Matthew managing the fastest lap and Sophie taking the top step.

There's a rather striking nameplate or two at Millside, now with super efficient central heating, smart bathrooms and decor.  There's still a need for a music room, an annex - a suite of studio rooms, perhaps.  The power supply is already laid...

The good folk who run Messy Church keep dragging us back to help here and there; while it's good to be invited, it seems more important to nurture the next generation.  Our first meeting up with our new neighbour included one of those sweet conversations - he in his smart 4x4 drawing up on his frontage: "Good evening, can I help you?"  "I'm waiting for some pilgrims to arrive!", and a couple of minutes later the neighbours headed off and, indeed, passed the happy souls with their weary feet.  CTAL and LincsFX have coordinated a series of four Prayer Pilgrimages across the county, 'discovering the ancient for the sake of the future'.  Locally, the website which seems to be far more than a collection of ecumenical matters has been joined by an openly accessible Facebook page packed with pictures from church flower and Christmas tree festivals.

Friends running Wykes Manor, retreat and arts centre, complete with private chapel, were filmed for BBC Songs of Praise; the brief shots of Gus on banjitar leading Ian White's Centipede Song reflected the true love, joy and peace of the community there.  The banjitar has also been seen in Sutton Bridge at the ecumenical evening service, along with the VG.  Allison continues to play recorders in the villages as part of the Ad Hoc choir's instrumental group, known as In Situ; the special Taizé-style service
 at Aslackby for Remembrance was most moving, hearing poems from the front, each following readings using the trench Bible, candles being extinguished rather than lit...

Celebrating our Pearl wedding anniversary in Scotland while also catching up with Geoff after far too many years for his 65th, 2014 has seemed to have been rather spent on the A1.  Keeping in touch with so many loving, welcoming relatives and friends is so much richer than social media.  Loving neighbour as self, doing unto others as you'd be done by, valuing others as you'd wish to be valued - they're all topped, perhaps, by 'holding others in higher esteem than self'; tears and smiles are easier to enjoy face to face...