What’s Another Year?
That time of year to look back and look forward. Another year has become but a blur and another year lays in waiting. It is these crossover places that we review where we have come from and have fresh hope for where we may be going. I will be taking a look at the journey that has unfolded and that continues to unfold. 2013 has been a positive year in so many ways, yet full of challenges and not without pain. A year where travel has been limited and yet connection stronger than ever. For the first time for ages I have not stepped foot in a plane during a calender year. Not that there were not opportunities but details never seemed to get finalised or other things took hold. It has been a year where family continues to play a huge part of my life, where investment of time and resource is greatest, and work colleagues become greater friends and place of connection. The world where I physically live has been the place of redemption and seeds of love and hope. It is almost as if I have found myself going deeper into the earth of community and anonymity and less for the places of honour and centre stage. This is where I feel at home. There have been times of sharing but I find myself amongst people on broken journeys themselves. These have been few and far between though. There was a time I was only happy when the diary was full, now I find contentment in simply being.
Finding ReFreshing Community.
To the eyes of those who do not know me they see a person in total disconnect from community, someone neglecting the need to be in fellowship with others. The polar opposite is reality, I find myself in a place of strong connection, true friendship, honest expressions and mutual respect and sharing of lives. I have been on the road a couple of times through the year to meet friends on the journey outside the wall themselves. One someone who has become a real friend of life and depth beyond what I have experienced in Christendom or elsewhere before, the other a first time but one also of great depth and ongoing connectivity. Geoff Reed I met in Nottingham, where we walked, talked and shared much laughter and honest talk about the journey and Father’s love. I so thank God for Geoff and his wife Lynne, they have become amazing friends and companions on the journey. Love them to bits. Ben Mueller I met in Liverpool for the first time. Again much walking and honest talk with this young man who has begun to invest his life in the journey. Encountered with him a safe place and dangerous place where I felt comfortable sharing anything and everything. May this relationship grow and develop in the days ahead. Others I have found on the journey such as Paula and Al Coates who I met at Greenbelt. Another couple from the beautiful Cramlington community of friends that I love loads. Also at Greenbelt briefly met Diane Woodrow, another great connection for future reference. Another couple from Cramligton Paul and Paula Smart along with their great kids found their way into the Rhondda where we walked and shared some life for a while together. Here in the Rhondda deepening relationship with Julian and Wendy Hares, a young couple ‘leading’ a young church plant. Have been blessed by times shared as couples together, meals, laughter, stories of days past and hopes of what to come. Maybe not understanding where each other are standing but prepared to understand that relationship is deeper than where you stand. Work colleagues that are becoming more than colleagues, more like friends. This culminated in the work’s do on Sunday where a few of us ate at Weatherspoons and then drank, talked, and drank some more in the Skinny Dog and back again. An amazing night where conversation turned to believing in God, baptism, the Bible stories and beer. When you open your eyes to being church you realise the community of believers is all around you. I love where God has sown my life.
Listen to the Music.
It has also been a year when I have rediscovered my love for live music. Finding the creativity of the heavenly Artist all over the place in His artists. Not those that sing paint by numbers ‘worship’ music, but those who use their art for art and messages of life. Got the opportunity to see Paul Weller for the first time this year, what a great musician and song writer. Saw the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Greenbelt where I saw the need for communication of light in dark music afresh. Saw the Editors with my boys here in Cardiff, where I experienced community amongst strangers as celebration and joy exploded during some great music. Complete strangers would place there arms around each other and dance wildly with huge beaming smiles on their faces. Connection with humanity for a brief moment that ministered into my soul and probably all those there. Then there was Sigur Ros in London. What can I say? The most moving experience in a gig ever. There were times I wept, times I just had to raise my hands in worship, times when I just closed my eyes and disappeared into a world beyond a world. All ‘worship’ leaders should go see this band and rediscover the heart of worship. Feeling not words. Depth not shallow. Listening to this band was deep crying out to deep. Again community all around as complete strangers met and talked in the queue to get in.
Life is Full of Stages and Continuation.
2013 was the year my kids all hit marker points in their lives of education. Joel is now in his final year of University. Daniel began his first year in Cardiff. John began sixth form. Matthew began Comprehensive education. It was a time where we contemplated relocation as it was a window of opportunity that would not disrupt anybody, but the stages led to continuation in the same land where our roots seem to be deep enough to keep growing out from here. Does God want us to move sometime? I think it is up to us. I no longer see guidance as something magical just something lived in magic. Wherever we want to be, God will dwell too. So what do I see in 2014? Life, nothing more, nothing less. I no longer look for words or dreams or false dawns, just life. There will be more journeys around coffee and dinner tables with friends and connections. Looking to connect further with Diane Woodrow and Mavis Andredez and Steve Double. Looking to visit the great country of Sweden once again and the beautiful Maria and Bjorn Isacsson. Other than that will let the year unfold. Those looking for a word for 2014 will be disappointed, I have nothing to give other than live life to the full.
Final Words, First Words.
This is going to be the final blog for 2013. I want to thank those who read and have travelled with me, either in person or in spirit. I love my community of fellow pilgrims, whether they be in person, those met on the journey or cyber connections through Facebook. I thank God for each of you, you all shape my shape-shifting world in some way. What shape will the blog take in 2014? Who knows, it may change, it may reform, it may disappear and re-appear at will, but what I do know is that a journey and a life will continue to be chronicled for any who are interested to read the life and thoughts of a journey-man here in South Wales. I thank you for being part of my life. You just about keep me sane. I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and let us raise a glass to one another as we walk into the uncharted territory of another year ahead, whatever that year holds for us. My last words go out to those who have sown in any way into our lives through 2013, thank you, you know who you are. At times you have kept us afloat and enabled journeys and changes to take place. Every gift has released life for which we are most appreciative, thank you.
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