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12 Days of Christmas

As I write, on the Thursday after Christmas, it is -2 degrees outside. The silver birch trees, having decided to lose their leaves only three weeks ago, stand unmoving and there is silence in this small close. My neighbours all seem to have evaporated, perhaps gone to warmer climes - no banging of front doors in the morning and in the evening, but only the cats snooping and dashing after phantom prey. It is the aftermath of Christmas and no one will go back to work for another five days in the UK. Except for those who keep the systems going - the farmers, food retailers, energy, communications, dustmen and transport.

In fact that's quite a list! One can then add the horticulturalists like the tomato growers who are counting the cost of heating their crop, already in flower and probably ready for sale in two months time. (There is here, of course, a little recollection of what life was like in January 2003, as we crept out, after Christmas, to work in the glasshouse where it was 21 degrees C!)

Presumably people do not find, in this prolonged Festival and Bank holiday, that time hangs on their hands. When one can be present to almost any part of the globe by the medium of television, one need not necessarily feel the delimitation of one's own four walls. But to many it can be the time for creative possibilities in the arts and crafts. Or to the solving of problems like Su-Doku in record breaking time! It is not so easy today, as it might have been a century ago, for the exploration of silence and stillness. But as someone has said, it is the pauses in music which are so important, energising a personal response from the listener to the creative vision of the composer. A small beginning perhaps but a start for living in longer stillness.

However, realistically, we are all so much more hyperactive in our minds than our grandparents were and the challenge of living 'above' the continuous underground noise of our thoughts, is quite great. One thing that one cannot do is to stop the 'underground' and so the solution requires rising above it, as a feather is taken up by the breeze into the air. In the stillness, the image of that feather floating free, has the lineaments of prayer. It is the opposite of being adrenalin driven when faced with some mental or physical challenge. But then there is required a 'theology', a vision of the Other, of God, which these letters do not attempt to provide!

Best wishes for a creative New Year!

© Aelred Arnesen

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