Advent: December 17th

I moved to Wales on this day 18 years ago. Which means that I’ve now lived half my life here (minus a few weeks if I’m splitting hairs because I was born in September!)

It’s become my home by a long and at times tortuous process. I didn’t choose to come here and it was many years before I felt like I could settle here and it was almost a decade before I stopped thinking that it was only a temporary stage of my life and that one day I would move away someplace else and live a different life.

Belonging is an organic process; it changes and shifts with time and circumstance. People come and go around you, move away, lose touch, are born… and die. Nothing stays static and either you embrace that change or become crushed by it. I’m not someone who takes readily to change nor do I find it easy to let go of things or say goodbye. For me roots are everything and there is no nomadic blood in me. Letting go of things I care about, whether people, animals or place is a pain that affects me at a physical level and so, for safety, over the years I’ve become rooted in my land regardless of the change around me. Although I don’t come from this area, this is now where I belong – it’s simply a fact.

When I look at the mighty oaks and magnificent ashes amongst the mature trees on our fields and think how long they’ve been here and the people that have come and gone in their time it gives me a sense of stability. The feel of bark under my fingers or earth in my hands is a reassurance of both the permanent and transient nature of the material world and my own insignificance in that. For some reason that makes me feel safe; life matters… but perhaps that we don’t actually matter as much as we like to think we do. That lifts a burden and frees you to try and live each day consciously and to the best of your ability.

The sun setting behind the trees is a demarcation of each day; the things I got right, the things I could have done better. Drawing a line under a job well done or giving the promise of a fresh start tomorrow if I screwed up.

The gift of a new day…

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