I recently came across the following observation, which gave me much food for thought.
The boy on the farm looks up at the sky and sees an aeroplane, and dreams of far-away places. The traveller in the aeroplane looks down at the farm, and dreams of home.
At this time of the year when we, like the traveller in the aeroplane, have come on a long and sometimes weary journey through the months, we dream of home.
At Christmas most families celebrate the homely virtues of the fireside and the dining table, where all can gather in warmth and contentment and simply share in each other’s company. Presents and cards are exchanged and goodwill prevails.
For those of us who have a spiritual faith, it is a holiday – a holy day – when we can experience the peace and joy traditionally associated with this annual Christian festival.
Then New Year comes, and we are much more like the boy on the farm, looking forwards into the weeks and months to come, and dreaming of the good things we hope will come to pass in the dawning days.
To state the obvious, our take on things is greatly dependent upon our overall perspective on life: are we earth-bound dreamers, or are we travellers?
Just last week I was standing at our kitchen window when I became aware of a kingfisher perched on our rose arch. Its brilliant colours completely arrested my attention, and I watched it for over a minute, marvelling at its lovely shape and size.
A couple of paces from our rose arch is our small garden pond inhabited by frogs and newts, water-snails, two goldfish and some tiny freshwater minnows we had recently inherited. We had been taking great delight in observing how the fish in particular were getting along together.
Suddenly in a flash the kingfisher left its perch and plunged into the pond. A moment later it was back on the rose arch, but with one of our minnows in its long sharp beak. It stunned the minnow with a couple of sharp thwacks on the trellis and, throwing its head back, down the kingfisher’s gullet it went.
What is given us with one hand is sometimes simultaneously taken away with the other. I didn’t know what to feel first – glory in the sight of the magnificent bird, or sorrow at the loss of one of the tiny aquatic creatures we had been tending, – or both?
January can be interpreted as the month of the two faces of the god Janus: god of beginnings, transitions, time, duality, beginnings and endings. He looks forwards into the future and backwards over the past; he presides over travelling, war and peace, arrivals and departures.
We are not classical pagans, but the symbolism of this time is not lost on us either. May our Christmas and New Year period be a peaceful one for all our members and friends, and may our outlook be a positive one of optimistic friendliness for the future.
With very best wishes to all our members and friends at Great Meeting, from
PS. I hope you enjoy my cover photo of the chapel filled with winter sun.