As the twelve days of Christmas draw to a close, our family slowly but surely makes its way back out into the world. For a week and a bit, my two youngest daughters have been home from universities afar, and with their arrival my eldest, who lives not so very far away, has been frequenting home. Of course, offspring often bring friends in tow, and so Friday three extra mouths were at table giving us eight instead of our usual two, and yesterday we had seven at table. It is fun to have more feet around the house, more eating at the table and more laughter in the living room. It is always a delight to have our children home again.
Yesterday our youngest asked for one of my watercolour paintings to take back to her apartment. We pulled out an art file with paintings spanning our years as a family. It was fun to reminisce as we looked again upon images I made in Northern Alberta, Toronto, here in Kitchener and while on holidays. We were transported briefly back to earlier times. It was also interesting to see my painting style shift and change, with an innovation tried for a bit and then discarded, as well as constant themes that interested and interest me still: skies, water, horizons. The two girls who were here each grabbed what struck them and that made me glad. It is nice to imagine a piece of me in their apartments.
I am a little sad knowing that they will soon be winging their way back to their lives, but this too is how it should be. Leaving is a part of life: we leave the womb, we leave the safety of our parent’s laps, we leave grade school and on and on. This is the cycle of life and while we sometimes want to hold some moments hard we also know that other moments are hell and the cycle serves us well in giving us distance from these.
It is a New Year, and so I am not altogether surprised that I am a little wistful. While 2015 was a good year, it also held some disappointments and even tragedies for those near us. Tragedies, of course, are contagions and spread their darkness. But joy too is infectious, and so it is good at year’s end to recall moments of rejoicing: delicious laughter and poignant peace, the gifts of reunions, and sharp prairie skies as well as sheets to the wind with water spraying over the deck and washing a kind of timelessness over “busy-wounds.” It is good to remember those holy moments when we recall how small we are and yet find ourselves cradled in a palm of compassion knowing that we are, as Pastor Anne so gladly shares at work, “more than enough, so much more than enough.” There is peace in cracks and joy in shadows; there is hope in losses and love in misses. 2016 will be what it will be and hold what it holds, but we are invited to enter the year with eyes wide open and hands to the plough. There will be opportunities to create memories to reflect upon joyously a year from now – as tonic for griefs that come without our bidding. I covet a year of great joys for each of you, and pray God’s winding way into your paths.