From time to time it is good to update this page and Friday 2nd January 2015 seems like a good time to do so. I first created this website with the excellent and expert help of Mr Site back in September 2011 at the time I was being made redundant from my post by the Anglican Diocese of Worcester. At that time I was unsure what I was going to do. In same ways I still am but I worry less about it than I did!
Since September 2013 I have lived in a cottage at the junction of two canals in Worcestershire, England with my wife, Laura, our daughters, Bethan (when home from University or her travels) and Rebecca (6th Form). We also share our home with our dog, Storm, and ancient cat, Mitten. Our home is a canal cottage, first built around 1830 and extended in the 1970s and bit by bit we are making it our own.
In 2014 I look back to a particularly significant moment on All Hallows Eve at a gathering of a Forest Church in Stourport in Worcestershire. At one point in the evening we were all invited to gather leaves and then to cast them into the fire. I loved the symbolism of this. Leaves are something good that bring life to the tree on which they grow but in each autumn on a deciduous tree they come to an end of their life and so say farewell to the tree. The tree has to let them go, not because they harm it, but because the tree must sleep through the winter and then make ready for new leaves and new growth. Saying farewell to what is past is a natural part of life for trees and at that moment I realised that this was true for me as well. On that evening I said a last farewell to all thoughts of "career" as a minister in The Church of England. Actually The Church of England had already said farewell to me but in my occasional feelings of anger about the way I felt I had been treated I had not been prepared to do so myself. At the time I write this it is over two months since that moment and I realise that I am largely free of that anger. I am ready for new growth!
This is a good place to be because in 2015 I will be 60 years old. I remember my grandparents as being old people in their 60s and indeed my grandfather did not live to be 70. Of course I do not know how long my own life will be but however long I want it to be good. That does not mean that I want it to be free of difficulty but I want my own response to the particular joys and sorrows of this next part of my life to BE good. Iranaeus of Lyon writing in the 2nd Century said that God's glory is a human being who is fully alive. I want to learn what it means to be fully alive in this part of my life.
A part of this full life is to say farewell to words like career. I now spend a significant part of my time conducting funerals, weddings, baptisms, acts of worship and visiting schools, and visiting the housebound. My full life right now means saying Yes to God in each of these and that means learning to love them and the people I meet in them.
Another feature of my full life is writing. On this site and on a specialist blog site stephencwinter.com I publish a weekly blog on J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. In December 2014 these were viewed by about 420 people. Do take a look at these if you want to find out more.
I also lead Quiet Days from time to time and I hope these will develop in the coming year as well.
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