As a child, the holidays lasted forever. Long summer days of playing in the sunshine worked their way into long summer evenings on the road, on my bike, in the dirt, in the grass, with my friends. One August we all found ourselves up above town on the moors swimming in the ponds, running in the hills, knowing those times would never end.
Till school called us back.
For ages after I left school I would awake to the nightmare sound of the bell that ran my life through all those years: teachers, I have no idea how you can do it. I suppose it has, however, had a twin effect upon me: I chose a job with no set hours. And a personality type with a pathological attention to the clock.
Well now the holidays are over again. School is calling me back - or, at least, university. No bell (thank God). But a more set routine than I have known since I began my working life, and a commute for the first time since I was eighteen. Strike that, seventeen - my final exam at grammar school (a forty minute bus-ride from home) was the day before my eighteenth birthday.
The problem with memory (of course) is that it only looks back. I cannot remember forwards at this point in time to the friendships ahead, the joys set before, the trials overcome, the triumphs and simple pleasures that await. I cannot reminisce about quiet evenings three years from now, or wax lyrical about friends I have yet to meet, relationships that have not begun, passtimes and priorities that my life will take on in the days locked up beyond tomorrow.
The holidays are over! The resting is done! A key is placed in the living door of my experience which may turn in this way only this time and only this once - and I got to choose to do this! It's happening! I need to snap my head forwards, to bring my mind from remembering things past to being ready to take on all things new.
For, as angels sang on Easter morning - Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here - He is risen!
My life was on those hills in Accrington, in that school in Blackburn, at university in Oxford, ordained in South Wales, working in Aberystwyth, writing in Cambridge, being vicar of Pontypridd - but my hand is in the hand of Jesus, and he is the God of the living, not of the dead. Not forgetting what lies behind, I strain forwards to gain the prize, to live the life, to seize the day, to rise on wings and to live the life set out for me. Grateful, and being grateful using all that I have gained with love and for glory here and now.
Here and now.
It's the end of the holidays. A new day is beginning. Hallelujah.