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'Maureen's Musings'

January 2017

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: "Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."

And he replied: "Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way." So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East."

Spoken by George VI in his Christmas 1939 broadcast to the Empire these words struck a chord with a country facing the uncertainly of war. They were the preamble to an obscure poem, God Knows, written in 1908, but nobody was able to identify the poet. Finally at midnight on Boxing Day the BBC announced that the author was Minnie Louise Haskins, a retired academic from the London School of Economics - LSE. The poem was just a small part of a career which had encompassed working in India and the East End, industrial welfare and academia.

2016 turned out to be a shocker of a year in many ways. Think of the many celebrities who died - Terry Wogan, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Victoria Wood, Carla Lane and Caroline Aherne to name just six of my personal favourites - gone but not forgotten.

Then of course there was Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Whatever your political persuasion these have to rank of two of the most significant votes of recent history. The end of David Cameron's career as Prime Minister and that of George Osborne's too. The coming to power of our second woman PM.

So what will 2017 hold?
Well the point is that at this time (writing in December) none of us knows. All we can see is the darkness ahead - for which we need the hand of God (however you interpret that meaning). But although the longest night is yet to come as I sit in my study at the end of another long and murky December day, we do know that already in January the nights will be just a little shorter and maybe before the end of the month we will even feel the first stirrings of life returning to garden and hedgerow.

And 2016 wasn't all bad you know.... There were the Olympics to enjoy (let's leave to one side for now the questions about drug taking and trust that our own athletes are, for the most part, honestly seeking to be the best they can be). In church our new Audio Visual System was finally installed and has made a real difference to many of our services already. And even if the heating has proved a big headache for St Chad's this winter, I have been so grateful for the way everyone has set to and organised temporary heaters, cheerfully donned another jumper, and ensured that it is 'business as usual' in church.

So my guess is that 2017 will prove to be another mixed sort of year. Some good - some bad, but let's thank God that we are still here to see it!


PS. Many thanks to those who have written to me concerning the right of access to St Mary, Patshull. Over 20 letters have now gone in to the Churches Conservation Trust, so I think we have proved pretty conclusively that approaching the church via the Hall drive is by far and away the established means of access. Let's hope it can remain so for the future.