Welcome to the party. I'm in a celebratory mood. Don't worry - I've saved you a piece of cake.
What am I celebrating - do I hear you say?
The reasons are manifold.
This is definitely the season to celebrate human endeavour and achievement with the Olympics and Paralympics, both of which have been awe-inspiring.
On a more prosaic level we celebrate our own special occasions and achievements too, no matter how minor they may seem to others.
For instance, I have recently had a birthday. Perhaps some of you have too, maybe today? Congratulations!
Isn't having a birthday a cause to celebrate? Or possibly commiserate - depending on your viewpoint and your age perhaps. Either way, it is a milestone and a memory to enjoy in life's rich tapestry of the good, bad and indifferent.
In fact, just being alive, and having family and friends to acknowledge our existence, is a great thing to appreciate and not take for granted.
If you feel lonely and isolated, however - and we can all have moments when we feel like that even in a crowd of friends and family, and wonder if anyone is really there for you, it may surprise you to know that:
'The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing' ~ Zephaniah 3:17
- Even if nobody else seems to validate your existence, remember that God cares for you and loves you very much
- We all need to feel valued
- We all need support
- Life is continually throwing up change and challenges
''There are no moments you have frozen in amber. It's moving. It's changing, so appreciate what's good about right now and be ready for what's next''~ Michael J FoxEvents like birthdays and the ever-changing seasons are a reminder of the constant slipping away of days.
I am still discovering that if we cling tenaciously to the old ways of doing and being, then we risk, not only stagnation, but spoiling the hope of better things to come.
Like some of you, no doubt, I have had painful issues to deal with from my past that threatened to completely overwhelm the present and rob it of its peace and joy. Not much of a recipe for celebrating there.
What has helped tremendously and made a lasting difference in my journey of emotional healing has been my faith in Jesus Christ and taking the Bible seriously.
One of the many verses that have spoken to me is Isaiah 44 :18 -19 as it reminds me that God is in control and continually working on our behalf.
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland"
This promise is still being worked out in my life and gives me hope of seeing greater change in the future.
For those of us who may be parents, one of the 'new things' we experience is the final letting go of our children into the wider world of work, further education, marriage or just setting up home independently.
This poem about 'Letting go' (originally published in 'Individual Voices' and 'Celebrations - 15 Years Of The People's Poetry') captures some of the emotion felt during that rather bitter-sweet event in the family when our youngest son left home to go to university.
Love held him tight
as hand clasped hand;
I would not let him go.
I was the voice of reason, wisdom,
watching my seed grow.
Yet time marched on
and loosed the bond,
slowly gathering pace-
he strained for independence,
to run in his own race.
Now, still the rock
on which he leans;
crumbling, yet holding fast -
my son grows wise
for future years,
while I cling to the past.