Finally. The last day of 2023. I thought this year would never be over.
It has weighed heavily on me, revolving as it did around the triumvirate of death, loss, and despair.
Despite the long bright summer, it’s been a difficult one with too many dark days.
And still, I’m here.
Many years ago, in a pub in Dublin, after an Ireland-Scotland game, a then stranger who would become a dear friend told me that he envied me my faith.
I found nothing remarkable in it. It was there. Something I had been reared with. I took it for granted.
But this year, this year was different.
This year, I finally realised what there was to be envious of.
This dropped into my inbox during the week:
Faith is that indescribable strength, that secret weapon of the soul that allows us to persevere even when the facts seem damning and the truth unbearable. It’s what keeps us going when we’re not sure we can continue. It’s the light that leads us out of the darkness, and the map that guides our way. Without faith we would probably pull over to the side of the road, give up, and watch everyone else pass us by. But when we trust in the Lord and believe that He will guide us, there is almost nothing we cannot withstand and walk through together.
God isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Few of my friends believe. Too many blame religion for the woes of the world. It’s an easy target. Each to their own, I say.
Don’t dis my beliefs and I’ll happily leave you to yours.
Without my faith, I’d be lost.
The late great John O’Donohue, a lovely man who blessed another friend’s wedding on a beach in Mayo many moons ago, has a way of capturing the essence of being.
His poem, At the end of the year, is a good way to close this series of Gratefuls. Thank you for reading. And for commenting. And for being there.
AT THE END OF THE YEAR
As this year draws to its end,We give thanks for the gifts it broughtAnd how they became inlaid withinWhere neither time nor tide can touch them…Days when beloved faces shone brighterWith light from beyond themselves;And from the granite of some secret sorrowA stream of buried tears loosened.
We bless this year for all we learned,For all we loved and lostAnd for the quiet way it brought usNearer to our invisible destination.
I wish you and yours a peaceful and prosperous 2024.
Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh. Boldog új évet. Happy New Year.