As seasons go, 2020 was a year to cast away. It was a time die, a time to break down, a time to weep and a time to mourn. Its shadows and darkness went on forever, often plunging us to the depths of despair. The snail of time slithered through endless months of lockdown, and the morning never broke through. Workers did not work, children could not play, families flocked to foodbanks, friends could not drink tea, and the Archbishop of Canterbury closed all the churches, even to clergy, for the first time in 800 years. If God was near, he was not sensed. Our homes became prisons, unwalked dogs howled, and the stench of death choked the voice of the lamb.
The miseries of 2020 are best forgotten: it was a year of dullness, distance, coldness and deathly infection. We lost so much, and said goodbye to so many. The odour of mould will fade, and the palpitations will be steadied. God will draw near, and He may be sensed. It will take a bit more time for the plastic masks to become smiling faces once again, but that time will surely come. Let the curtain now fall. Farewell, shadows.
2021 offers a promise of hope: a time to heal, a time to build up, a time to laugh and a time to dance. There is calm now for those who weep, and a beam of light for those who were lost. Who would have thought even a month ago that the Covid plague would be tamed with a vaccine, or that the United Kingdom would secure a deal with the European Union, finally bringing an end to the purgatory of Brexit half-life? There is more to do, of course, but the act of Brexit heralds an era of ever-further divergence. This is now, finally, the settlement of the State.
Tomorrow will be happier because the new year begins with so much answered prayer. It rises with order and greater peace of mind; with a promise of familiarity and a return to normality – at least by the time the snowdrops have melted into daffodils, and the tomb is found once again to be empty.
A sweetness returns to the land, with the blessing of freedom and sheltering grace. It is a new chapter, if not a whole new book waiting to be filled with glorious words of peace and deeds of reconciliation to assure the soul of rest. How tirelessly we have laboured through a thousand struggles, and how weary of breath we are. How patiently we have waited to sing a new song, and with what fervour it shall be sung.
On 21st March 2021 this blog will be 15 years old.
15 years is a very long time.
A very happy and blessed New Year to all readers and communicants.