We have said goodbye to 2019 and we have greeted the first year of a new decade – 2020. And I would like to take a brief look both backward and forward. I’d like to say a very big thank you to so many people in the villages of Lindford, Arford, Headley Down and Headley which together make up the parish of Headley. All Saints Parish Church tried a number of new things in 2019 and they were all successful – thanks to so many people taking part, joining in, contributing, helping and (not least) knitting over 700 three-inch square, brightly decorated woolly bags which each contained an invitation to our Christmas events and services.
Carols and Lanterns on Headley Green was one of our new ventures and we were thrilled that 250 people joined us. It was lovely to see the green circled by the light of the lanterns. And the weather was perfect – ceasing to rain just as we arrived and only starting again after we had packed up! All of our new events will run again in 2020 plus some other new ventures which we hope will be just as successful. So please keep an eye on our website and this magazine. And the woolly bags were so popular that yes, we have been asked to knit some more!
By the time you read this it may be February and those of us who started New Year Resolutions may have managed to keep them – or not. For 2020 we may have decided to lose a stone or two of weight, take up yoga, learn a language, exercise more, drink less, and spend less money. And we will have made these resolutions on the first day of the year with great solemnity and with unfaltering commitment. And we (or some of us) will have just as surely broken many of them before January was out. We all know that New Year resolutions don’t always work terribly well. This must be partly due to the kind of resolutions we make. We expect that somehow the patterns that we have established over many years can be changed overnight, just because the calendar is changed.
It is so difficult to live up to our commitments to change ourselves. The fact is that, although it is easy to think of making changes while we might have a glass of champagne in our hand, fireworks in the air and jolly people around us, it doesn’t generally work like that. When we look back at all the times we have changed in a significant way, we are likely to notice that in many of those instances, our hands were forced. We didn’t easily leave the comfort of the old for the promise of the new.
It is often said that “when one door closes, another opens.” There is much truth in these words, but this maxim cheerfully overlooks the turmoil that is often involved in change. A more realistic version goes like this: “when one door closes, another opens, but it’s hell in the hallway!” Someone else said, “Although the place where we cling to the rock face may be uncomfortable and battered by icy winds – to move towards our goal means giving up the known for the unknown. But remaining here cannot move us forward.” Moving forward can require letting go of something we have become comfortable with, something known, familiar, and seemingly secure.
Now, once again, another year stretches before us with all its possibilities as yet unwritten. And, despite the poor success rate of New Year’s resolutions, we can change ourselves. Whether we recognised it at the time or not, we have all made decisions that changed our futures – and we make decisions like that all the time. Some of them are big decisions: what we would study, who we would spend our lives with, where we would live, what job we would do. But even the simplest decisions can have great consequences. How many parts of our current lives hinge on some small decision we made at some point in our pasts? A different decision might have led us to be somewhere entirely different today. So, whether we have attempted New Year resolutions or not for 2020, changes of some variety or another will probably happen to us in the next eleven months. Some of us will be looking forward with excitement to something that we hope will be good. Some of us will be looking forward with apprehension to something that we fear will not be good.
Whatever awaits us in the coming year, with God’s help we will see it through. My prayer and my wish for 2020 is that, when changes happen to any of us, any new doors will open smoothly for us and that we will not have to spend too long in that hallway.