Tuesday, November 29, 2016
How could it possibly be?
It's been a lovely day. Sunshine and frost and crisp, early winter's air. Our morning walk was a delight. No deer in sight today, but a gentle haze softening the edges of the fields as they meet the sky, and barely a note of cloud to be found anywhere in the sky.
I don't recall the weather ten years ago. I do recall the party, in the Gelliwastad Club in Pontypridd. MGQ playing, lots of friends and family and parishioners all around.
This year's party was in September. In the garden. Tonight it was just a few friends here at home.
Twenty years ago I had just moved to Aberystwyth. Though I moved in September, the house wasn't ready till the day before my birthday so I threw a housewarming-cum-birthday bash, and my tiny terraced cottage was filled with noise and joy.
Twenty-five years ago I was flying home from Israel. I'd been there with a team from St Aldate's, working with the two Anglican churches in Jerusalem and then having a chance to sightsee in Galilee. During the second half of that trip, I'd had the most amazing experience. Taking an afternoon by myself (because I was fed up and cross) I had ended up genuinely meeting with God by the lakeside in Galilee, and still have the pebble I picked up as I prayed there. The dusk came in fast, and though I found a bus stop back to Tiberias, it was in Hebrew and I had no idea what it said so I started to walk back. A car stopped, and the older gent who offered a lift (I guess he was probably the age I am now) was a University lecturer - a philologist. He spoke six languages. Sadly, English was number six, and so we conversed in a mixture of broken French and English, and I told him that I was training to be a priest.
If you want God's want, you are (how you say) congratulations.
Twenty-nine years ago this night happened in the University Church in Oxford, as I conducted the OICCU Carol Service on my 21st Birthday. I got my first CD player that day too. Goodness.
The year before, I don't exactly recall what I was doing, but I do recall walking with friends in Oxford at night and being terribly depressed that I was no longer a teenager. The move from 19 to 20 seemed enormous.
That I have friends from those far off days around me this evening, friends who have known me through the years, and messages from around the world pinging on my phone all day, is all the gift anyone could ask for.
The memories are selective; the blessings beyond number.