As 2021 draws to a close, my thoughts are turning, not so much to a review of the year almost finished, as to the year that’s about to start.
Normally in this last week of the year I go back through my diary and list any special days out I’ve had: trips to the theatre and meetings with friends, for example. Compiling the list brings back happy memories and also acts as a useful aide memoire when booking annual appointments in the year ahead.
2021, however, has inevitably provided far fewer really happy moments to remember, as lockdowns and Covid restrictions have continued to limit so many aspects of life and there seem to have been huge gaps of nothingness between the bright spots.
But, looking back and particularly over my spiritual journey through 2021, I see so much change and growth that has happened; happened in the background, in the gaps between the mountain top experiences I’ve been led to through daily reflections from the Pray as You Go ** websiteand online Quiet Days with Beauty from Ashes. ***
It’s so easy (and human) to want to journey on from one highlight to another, always looking ahead for the next excitement: the sunlit path through the shadows, to use the analogy which inspired this blog.
Yet, so often it’s through the gaps that the real beauty comes. The sudden sunbeam slanting through the glowering trees in the darkest part of the wood; the sounds and scents just on the edge of our consciousness as we walk.
I’m so thankful that the shortest day of the year, potentially the lowest point for my Seasonal Affective Disorder, has passed; now I can look forward to lighter times to come as the days gradually lengthen.
In 2022 I’m determined that, even if it becomes easier to plan travel, days out and other treats, I’m going to be open to exploring, experiencing and enjoying all the gaps in my year too. After all, it’s in the tiniest gaps in dry stone walls and paving where the most beautiful miniature flowers flourish.
I didn’t have the opportunity to go to university and, even if I had done so, the now ubiquitous ‘gap year’ was not something that was common at the time.
So, rather belatedly, 2022 will be my ‘Gap Year’: not crammed with travelling and pre-planned projects though but full of the Christian promise, exploration and hope to be found among the everyday.
Will you join me?
Happy New Year.