How’s it going?

There’s something special about new beginnings.
I remember how I enjoyed starting a new notebook in school – all those empty lines waiting to be filled with carefully penned words!
Or newly fallen snow like a blank canvas – lots of opportunity to be creative!
Or making New Year resolutions…

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…an appealing idea, but truth is, I never had much success in keeping these!
My solution was to use my January birthday as an opportunity for another fresh start, but this too was short lived.  ‘How’s it going?’ wasn’t a thought that had a pleasing answer – unrealistic goals coupled with a perfectionist streak equalled disappointment…

With age, and finding faith, I take a different approach. Rather than making New Year resolutions, I choose a ‘word for the year’ and look for daily opportunities to put it into practice. Last year’s word was ‘trust’ (there were plenty of opportunities!) and this year’s word is ‘grow’. It’s about aligning myself with God’s hopes for me, so that I become ever more fully the person I’ve been made to be.

Like a plant that grows in the direction of the light, our growth is dependent on being out of the shadows.

germinando

But I sometimes choose to remain in the dark. Self-doubt shrivels me; wrong priorities misshape me; fear of failure stunts me.

Thank heavens then, for a God with endless fresh starts for each of us.
We cannot live in the past, nor in the future. We can only live in the present moment, and like a present, it needs unwrapping. What have we been handed?  A little blessing to appreciate; a chance to make a small difference to someone’s day; an opportunity to face the fear and just do it!
Some days we will do better than others, but the call is to

keep on keeping on

As a believer, I trust in a God who doesn’t give up on us, and so a sense of God asking ‘How’s it going?’ is an invitation to be truly honest. It’s an invitation to let go and let God; to do our best and let God do the rest…

Truth is… ‘I make all things new, beginning with you, and starting from today’ (Song: WGRG, Iona Community)

Red Arrows – Yellow Arrows…

11 years ago, my partner, our young son and I walked 250 miles of the Camino
(a pilgrimage route through north Spain).

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We prepared for the challenge well, building up stamina by walking our local hills, weighted rucksacks on our backs, and learning a bit of Spanish in a family evening class.
Truth is, I struggled with the latter, as I don’t seem to be wired up for language learning.
(It’s astounding I’m fluent in my mother-tongue!)
However, an even bigger challenge awaited me.

The Camino route is marked by a series of yellow arrows painted on any available surface at crucial turning points.
Keeping on track is therefore simple – you just follow the ‘Yellow Arrows’.

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However…
…it wasn’t that simple for someone like me,
who can have a tendency to want to ‘know in advance’.
Like the Red Arrows display team, I like to know my position
– but the Yellow Arrows of the Camino encouraged me to ‘go with the flow’,
and I discovered a new freedom.

…It wasn’t that simple for someone like me,
who can be a bit of a perfectionist.
Like the Red Arrows, I allow myself no margin for error
– but the Yellow Arrows encouraged me to ‘let go’,
and I discovered the joy of spontaneity.

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So this week, when at times I’ve felt unduly anxious, I’ve remembered the Yellow Arrows
‘One step at a time’ I say to myself…
as I focus on the here and now rather than on the ‘what ifs’.

‘Look around and find little joys in little things’ I remind myself…
as I notice a dandelion emerging from a crack in the pavement.

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‘I’m glad I could help’ I think….
as I bid farewell to a hiker who’d lost his way in more ways than one.
And just maybe, I’ve been a momentary Yellow Arrow on someone else’s journey through life.

Truth is… ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths’ Proverbs 3.5-6