Friday, 4 January 2013


An unusual start this year - and today, a January day warmer than we sometimes are in June.  I still have a few tomatoes ripening in our unheated greenhouse, and roses are still opening on the briar outside my window.  I shall certainly make the most of this - every bit of fine weather at this time of the year is a slice off the winter, as they say.

I'm just gearing up now for my New Year resolutions.  I never make resolutions that start on New Year's Day - that's pointless, with the Christmas celebrations still in full swing, and so much to tempt me away from whatever austere path I may have set myself.  Mine shall start on Monday, with the Twelve Days (and the Feast of the Epiphany) out of the way.  And they will be moderate and keepable resolutions;  there is no point in setting the bar too high.

In fact, as a Franciscan, I aim to live anyway within a Rule of Life.  I'm not always very good at it;  for example, I'm not naturally good at prayer, in a disciplined way.  But to make a Rule, as I was told when I was first a postulant, is to set yourself something to aim at which is going to be attainable though not easy.  If it's easy, then what's the point - it isn't really helping you to grow as a person;  but if it's too tough then all it does is make you feel small and useless and a failure, and there's little use in that, either.

A good Rule of Life should begin with the real circumstances, the duties and responsibilities and constraints, of your own life.  It isn't about requiring you to live a different life, but living the life you already have in a better and a more caring way.  A more obedient way, too:  God's call to most of us is that we recognise him and serve him in the places where we are, not go looking for him somewhere else.

So my resolutions will in fact be about firming up my own keeping of the Rule I already have - one that is reviewed and renewed each year.  The immense changes there have been in my life over the past couple or three years (with more to come) mean that in fact I have some urgent need to review my Rule again, and this will be done this month, I hope, in consultation with a friend who is also my Spiritual Director.  The review won't be intended to make my Rule easier to keep, just more relevant to my present needs and situation.

I think a lot of us spend more time than we should wishing we were someone else, something that these days has become inextricably linked, I suppose, to the 'cult of celebrity' so blatantly fostered my much of our media.  The real challenge, though, is to learn how to be me.

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