To celebrate the final day of 2015, a reflection upon that for which I am thankful in this rather mixed year… (In no particular order, lest people feel slighted.)
1. London. I celebrated the last day of the year walking several miles from Limehouse to St Paul’s. The weather was beautiful and the city looked stunning. (Though this did draw out the tourists. Anyone with me on starting a petition for a ‘tourist free path’ over Tower Bridge and along past City Hall??) Given that even 7 months ago I didn’t think that I would be staying in the capital past June, so every extra day is a definite blessing! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I ❤️ London!
2.Which leads me nicely onto St Paul’s Cathedral. Getting a curacy in London Diocese meant my ordination took place at one of the UK’s (perhaps even the world’s) most iconic buildings. In the long journey to finding a church, I would often stop and pray at St Paul’s, and now, whenever I pass it or glimpse it in the distance, I remember that day and all and all that it means.
3. So I am also hugely thankful for the incumbent and community of Christ Church Highbury for giving me the opportunity to take on a slightly unconventional curacy. It’s working out really well, being a nice mixture of challenging and fun, with lovely people. Moving up to Highbury to live is on the cards for February/March, which will make life a lot easier!
4. While I’m very excited to be returning to the green fields of North London (once a Norf Londoner, always a Norf Londoner!), it has been a joy to score an extra 8 or 9 months with the lovely Schofields. While the hot tub they were in the process of installing when I looked around in July 2014 may still not be finished, they have, in the last year, completed a sauna in the back garden and produced the utterly adorable baby Serenna. Smaller Housemate, the now 4 year old Jacob, continues to teach me lots about cars, Octonauts and Transformers; while I teach him about baking and attempt to answer his increasingly tricky theological questions. An added bonus has been the extended family, particularly the grandparents who turned up to support the family after the baby arrived, which coincided with the week before my MA thesis was due. The days before such a deadline really should merit the same kind of support as the family of a newborn – meals cooked and cheerleading provided!
5. That I have this lovely family with which to live is entirely down to the wonderful (and mad) Matryoshka Haus community, who I continue to be extremely thankful for! The community of people are brilliant and amongst my closest friends, but, at New Year, what’s even better is MH’s new base in Limehouse. This building is a Godsend in many ways. Acquired in October, it’s become the base for all things MH – community meals; co-working space for the various people working on MH tools and projects’;a location for parties; storage for many, many objects; and a space for guests to stay. It’s this latter element that was a particular blessing at New Year, when I took residence for a couple of days an had my very own introvert’s retreat. [More on this to follow.]
6. Talking of new houses, in 2015 I am also thankful for the quaint town of Tewkesbury. Home to my sister for around a decade, this town now possesses the home to which my parents will retire in 2017. For a family that has been separated by the Irish Sea since 2004, this is quite a milestone! As the family gathered at my sister’s on Boxing Day, it was a sign of years to come, when our parents will live just a few minutes up the road, instead of a flight away. Halle-flipping-lujah! [Though we will miss Belfast, because it is lovely.]
7. On the subject of family, this year is also a year to be thankful for our faithful labrador Megan, who went off to chase the rabbits of heaven back in February. Very sad times. She has left a legacy though, as it’s clear from our Boxing Day walk with some friends’ gorgeous hound that this is not the end of family dog owning. No dog will quite replace Megs though. [Guarantee that at this point my mother will have had to reach for a tissue, if number 6 hadn’t done that already…]
8. To happier things! More babies! As 2015 closes, multiple friends are expecting new additions in 2016 and plenty of babies have arrived over the last 12 months. Aside from my baby housemate, the most anticipated newborn was Tobias Bede, the youngest member of the Matryoshka Haus community and an absolute cutie. He has a veritable city of people helping to raise him and has a very special mother!
9. 2015 was the year in which I finally ceased being a student at St Mellitus, after four highly memorable years. (I think there were moments when staff thought they might never get rid of me – and they very nearly didn’t!) I will never cease to be thankful for that amazing community of students and staff who supported me through some very difficult times, and who have encouraged me into doing some things that I never quite imagined I’d do! I’m very glad that I still get to go back from time to time to teach, and would love 2016 to see a slight re-arrangement of my week so that perhaps I can make it a more regular thing. We’ll see what God does about that…
10. In celebration of no longer being a student, I took myself off on a well-deserved break to the States, so I am thankful for New York and Vermont and all the fun had there. A special thanks goes to St Lydia’s for making me feel so welcome, and giving me the basis for an exciting plan for 2016…
11. New York & Vermont were only possible thanks to friends living in interesting places! Thank goodness for staying in touch with excellent people who are lots of fun!
12. On the subject of friends, I continue to be exceedingly thankful for friends who send reassuring messages, call, or even pop something in the post (looking at you Wendy, with your PB Oreos…). I should post particular thanks to whoever sent two items anonymously to me in the last few months [it’s not creepy, it’s touching!]. There are few friends that I am more thankful for than those with whom I spent Big Cottage with. Great people. Great fun. Great cottage. Oh, and I’m thankful that within these friends is a family so like my own that they let me spend Christmas with them! [Returning to that one another time too…]
13. Great friends also = great theatre buddies. This same crew were on it in terms of West End viewing in 2015 (God bless Jenni and her organisational skills). Gypsy starring Imelda Staunton was hands-down the best theatre I’ve seen this year. I finally got to see Carrie the Musical (sooooo good!) and was mightily peeved that tickets for Funny Girl clashed with Thanksgiving, but perhaps I’ll get to see it in 2016…
15. Avocados. They’re amazing.
Yes, 2015: the year I got ordained and finally enjoyed eating avocado. Profound and ridiculous!