Its been a busy month so far and here we are almost at the end of March. Life continues with its ups and downs and people close to me have been going through hard times. I could be praying twenty four hours a day for the needs around me and never come to the end.
The weather is trying to catch up with the season as Spring is evident everywhere but it remains cold and showery, too soon for turning the heating down. I’ve been taking some trips down memory lane the last few days, as a box of old letters and various documents came back into my possession.
Pictures of me with very long hair ( much thicker then than my thinning thatch is now) and others of me standing proudly in my student nurse uniform wake memories long forgotten. Some events I can’t recall despite the evidence that they happened. I am rapidly approaching a large milestone birthday next weekend and celebrate with friends and family a week later. All of us as we get older remember the “good old days”. We didn’t have mobile phones or computers and we wrote letters alot. Now we text, or face-book or e-mail messages like confetti in the ether, then letters were important.
Letters conveyed something of the writer in the handwriting and the language. An inveterate letter writer my Mum wrote to me so regularly and I lived for letters from home as I was incredibly homesick. My wonderful sister wrote chatty letters about life without me there, making me chuckle over the things she said and the way she wrote.
There were letters from boyfriends. I’d forgotten some of them as well! Even though my first serious boyfriend only lived four miles away he wrote every week, those letters were very eagerly awaited and I still have some things he wrote. These are all the more precious because he is no longer with us and our friendship was rekindled only during the last three years of his life.
My best friend, now of fifty three years standing, wrote often from her teacher training college in London. Her neat and distinctive handwriting covered several pages documenting college life, what was happening to whom, with whom and where things were going next.
Life as a student nurse in those days was exciting in amongst the dreaming spires of Oxford. There was a great deal of the routine and mundane and we quickly found ourselves confronted with the sharp end of life and death, but mostly rose to the challenges we faced. I found letters that I had written home, often at night to try and keep awake between bedpans and back rounds. The world seemed huge and there was an excitement about the future, all the optimism of youth came flooding back as I re-read my epistles home to Cornwall.
The touch of nostalgia has been helpful in some ways, I can see how much I’ve changed and yet how much of that “me” is still here, ever optimistic, despite what the intervening years have thrown at me. Some wistfulness in my thinking, which is common to most of us, “if only I’d known then what I know now”, has given me some regrets.
I realise how precious friendships are and how important it is to treat people properly. That’s not to say that we don’t lose some friends, we do for all sorts of reasons and some are just for a season, but I am happy to say some friends I have had for many decades and they will hopefully be with me at my birthday celebration.
In a sense blogging can be a bit like writing an open letter to anyone who reads it. The apostle Paul was one of the most prolific letter writers and left a world changing legacy through what he wrote. His words have been read and studied by millions over the centuries and quoted and misquoted to suit the occasion. But the essence of his messages is timeless and helps us better understand what is really important.
For me over the years the three things that have kept me going are my faith, my family and my friends and I have been blessed with all of them. Paul says it best when he says There are three things that remain—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1, Corinthians 13, 13).
These are the three pillars I cling to and all that I can offer anyone, I would be nowhere without them. As I reflect on six decades of life I am truly grateful for all that I have now, for all the trials I have gone through for they have shaped me and taught me what is really precious and of value. I have struggled with disappointment and heartache and yet learned to be thankful for the small things. I have known loneliness and fear but life is still very precious and there is a sacredness in the ordinary everyday things we take so forgranted.
I have no idea what lies up ahead for me or those I love, I see reflections of some of my life in my children and grandchildren and know that they have the right foundations. I can only pray that my faith, hope and love continue to sustain us all across the years to come.