For several years now, during the last week of the year, I’ve found myself looking back through my diary and listing all the enjoyable, non-routine things I’ve done. No appointments with my chiropracter or dentist, for example, make it onto the list.
The things which do make it are those things which have given me pleasure. The completed list brings back so many lovely memories of holidays, days out and time spent with friends. It’s so good to recall and remember the special times which the year has produced.
Sometimes at this end-of-year time with its shorter days and always battling my ‘glass half empty’ personality, I’m really surprised and cheered by the number of lovely experiences I’ve had.
This year, 2022, particularly in its final quarter, has been a difficult one. Just after my last blog post was written in mid-September, my mother was admitted to hospital where, unfortunately, she died in late October. So, for much of the last months of the year I had little time for anything outside the most routine daily tasks. Therefore, I was expecting to be using a much smaller piece of paper to list my highlights.
However, once I’d started, I was very pleasantly surprised at all the lovely, positive things which have happened: short breaks with good friends, trips to London for that quintessentially English treat of afternoon tea, visits to museums and galleries and, by far, the most important, the time I was able to spend with mum in the care home before she went into hospital.
Although not without their stresses for both of us, these visits, together with the rare trips out we were able to take, gave her much pleasure and me some important memories.
Looking back through 2022 I can also see the steps I’ve taken in my faith journey: some faltering, others more clearly defined and I give thanks for the people who’ve encouraged and supported me along the way in person, through prayer and by writing the books which have inspired me.
I wonder whether Jesus, in the years before he began his ministry, looked back and reviewed each year as it passed? What happy times spent with family would He recall? What friendships? What family responsibilities? What, in His human existence, were the waymarks along His spiritual path? Was He happy? Frustrated? Perhaps even regretful sometimes? As He drew closer to the time when His ministry began, how might He review the previous years as He began to let go of His simple family life in order to carry out His real purpose?
I enjoy my review of each year and I keep all the lists of highlights. They’re useful to flip through if I’m having a day or two of depression and I can give thanks for all the good things which I’ve experienced and shared with Jesus who has been alongside me throughout.
2022 has been a hugely difficult year for so many people and communities across the world and 2023 looks to be equally challenging.
Writing this blog helps me to reflect on the spiritual aspects of every day life and situations and I pray for the inspiration to continue doing so as I turn the page into a new year. Thank you for reading and a very Happy New Year.