A strange feeling this Christmas. Sort of transitional. For the first time there will be no parents or step-parents for me, as my fathers wife passed away at the beginning of the year. She left behind the remainder of my fathers things, and among them their letters to one another, which included several mentions of a particular path that they enjoyed walking along in the New Forest, and unbeknown to us at the time many years ago, the same path that dad revelled in walking along with us with his new wife. As a youth, I revisited here many, many times, both by myself, with my brother, and daughters when they were small. Wild overnight camping has been enjoyed in the woods on the right, on one occasion with my daughter being just six months old, as I felt it important to let them become part of this beautiful and peaceful place.
Yesterday I returned after many years, this time with Amanda. I talked of personal things, and my adventures here as a child, and in particular about a fabulous rope swing that had ALWAYS been in the same place for as long as I had been coming here, and from which one could sail high across the stream that it spanned. As we walked along the stream, we came upon a new rope swing before we were to reach the main one, and spent some time laughing and getting giddy, and I told Amanda about how the 'one of old' is much better. And so we pressed on in search of it.
Just like people in our lives, it had been a part of mine, and in the same way as those people we love, had finally come to the end of it's own life. My favourite rope swing tree was now playing it's own part, in allowing the young forest around it to develop, and 'take hold of the baton' so to speak.
For the first time ever, my brother is away for Christmas. At this moment I think in a jungle on the side of a volcano in Nicaragua. Every Christmas up until now, we would phone each other on Christmas day, and talk about silly things.
Although my faith is very strong, my church life has been virtually non-existent. Facebook has at least enabled me to keep in touch with some of those from my old church, and this morning we shared in their Christmas eve morning walk and coffee.
In the picture above, Amanda is walking with the Richard the pastor, and his wife Faith.
Richard became pastor during our absence, and from what little our lives have crossed, comes across as a good man, of strong faith. Alongside him in the church, but alas is himself about to have his life change, is Chris, another minister who has been at our church for about nine years. When at the church ourselves, and during his early years, the three of us were heavily involved in the development of the churches outreach and assistance to the homeless and addicted. There have been many, many exciting times shared with this wonderful man, who's present arduous task in the picture below involves holding up the left hand end of the fallen tree. In January he and his family are moving to Christchurch, a town several miles away, to minister the church there. It was quite strange walking with a group from a church so familiar to us, but where most people are unknown. But, as with the fallen rope swing tree, it is part of life, and very necessary, for some things to go, so that new life can continue and develop.
I suppose my health over the last year has also made me look at things in more of a transitional way as well. Always fairly doctor free, and very fit and healthy, the couple of health scares to hit me this last year have made me feel my age, as I climb higher up the mortal ladder.
It's strange, this is also probably the most peaceful Christmas that I have had as well.
Peace and blessings at this very special time to all my fellow bloggers. I have enjoyed reading your blogs, and hearing from you. As with all things in transition, some new bloggers have arrived, some lovely ones have gone, but this group that connect with me keep following my winding path and I thank you for that.