New Year, New Me

Some of you may know that Covid decided to come to our house for Christmas.  We didn’t invite it.  In fact, we’ve been as careful as we can to keep it away; we are vaccinated and boosted, we wash our hands and/or use sanitiser regularly and we wear masks in most public indoor spaces.  And yet…

So Christmas became different.  Firstly, the church services had to change.  I know the government guidance said that, with some provisos, I could carry on my normal life even though my wife was ill with the disease at home; but I felt it would be a little reckless of me to host church services under the circumstances.  What if my tests were false negatives?  Accordingly, with a heavy heart, I backed out of leading the festival services this year and re-worked them a little so they could be held without me.  I would like to take this opportunity to express my public thanks to those who stood up to help at short notice.

I should note that doing this didn’t leave me twiddling my thumbs and wondering what to do.  There are plenty of things to occupy my time which do not require me to leave the house – there are the usual things like prayer, study, writing letters and articles like this, but increasing bureaucracy affects the rector’s life and work just as it affects schools, charities and businesses generally; sometimes there seems to be a never-ending pile of paperwork.

As we begin a New Year, and despite Covid, I am sure there will be the usual adverts for holidays, diets and gym memberships – people trying to capitalise on our longing for a better life and our determination to make a new start as we wave goodbye (or good riddance) to 2021.  Personally, I’d like to see a smaller in-tray pile, but I am realistic about my ability in this regard.  So here’s a poem which I hope might speak to the realist in you…

A New Year, a new me;
my heart longs to be free
from habits bad and self-destructive,
to embrace instead regimes productive.
And yet I know from past attempts
at New Years gone and previous Lents,
that turning that new leaf is hard
and hopeful dreams are soon all marred
by base temptations, habits old
that break and tarnish paths of gold-plated
ideals, intentions
and lead me where I fear to mention.
Thank God, then, that eternity
does not depend on fickle me;
this year, I shall take all my plans
and leave them safe in Jesus’ hands.

May you know God’s guidance and care through 2022.