12 Glimpses of Grace

A couple of times this week I've come across this site offering "26 Moments that restore your Faith in Humanity this Year." Once a fortnight... that's not a bad average... Check it out, it might brighten your day...

This year has been a real stinker for me and my family, what with multiple major injuries to Owain, necessitating him having to miss his AS levels and go back a year at school, another football injury to myself which had major complications, DFCI having to wind up because of the lack of funding, resulting in Sally losing her job, never mind the whole stress of the school transfer system for Ciaran... and a few work-related "complications". It will be a real pity if the Mayans were right and the world ends next week, because it wouldn't be a great one to finish on...

But against the background of that let me offer 12 glimpses of grace that have helped us through the bumps and grinds of this year... averaging once a month...

1) The generosity of friends (they know who they are, but we won't name them incase it puts them in an awkward position) who lent us their houseboat in London for a few days in February... This was not long after Owain's first injury of the year, allowing us to get a serious dose of culture... 

2) The support and concern of Owain's school throughout his travails... They were in constant contact, and it was they who ultimately suggested that he go back a year, even though there are cost implications for them because they won't get an 8th year of capitation fees from the board for him...

3) The staff and the facilities of the NHS that were there for Owain when he needed it... and he needed it a lot. It may have seemed to outside observers that things were dragging on a big with Owain, but all through the process they were trying to organise things to suit him, not wanting his education to be adversely affected. Everyone, across a wider range of departments and disciplines worked superbly together... and even the porters and canteen staff got to know him and would regularly ask after his wellbeing... 

4) The generosity of another set of friends (see the anonymity rationale above) who lent us an apartment in Turkey, allowing us 2 weeks of unashamed lounging around in the sun, leavened with looking at a few old piles of stones (see picture above)...

5) The 2012 Olympics and Paralympics... a real triumph of the human spirit and British organisational skills. I didn't think we would pull it off but we (in the national sense) did... not only on the organising front but the performances as well, for the best part of 4 weeks I was a snivelling wretch watching victory after victory by Team GB, often, in the case of the paralympians, against astounding odds. Inspiring...

6) The compassion of medical staff who held off putting me onto injectable diabetic medication until I returned from the holiday above, through understanding that I was under a lot of stress anyway due to work and Owain, but also that I am chronically phobic about needles... So much so they thought I had a blood pressure problem, because in my two previous meetings with them my blood-pressure was, unusually sky-high. This was because the meetings involved discussions of needles. Once they stopped mentioning the dreaded pointy things, my BP returned to normal. But the aforesaid injectable diabetic medicine is also something I am thankful for. It isn't (yet) insulin, but despite the fact that my day starts with having to stab myself, I am constantly thankful that, physically and psychologically difficult though it is, it is keeping me alive and in much better health than before the summer, and that had I lived in many other eras or places it would be unavailable or prohibitively expensive. Never thought I would be thanking God for hypodermic needles but there you are...

7) Congregation members who swung into action providing food for us when Owain ended up having his tonsils before undergoing major reconstructive surgery on his shoulder. It meant that we didn't have to eat hospital food at every meal...

8) A colleague who, when he heard about what was happening to Owain, and the demise of DFCI, voluntarily did a couple of my chaplaincy days, allowing me a bit of time to get my head together and be there for Owain and Sal...

9) Another friend who had heard about Owain's experiences and arrived at our door with the best carrot cake that has ever been created... It may have sent my blood sugars through the roof but it did wonders for my psychological wellbeing.

10) Just as we were having to take the difficult decision to wrap up DFCI, the possibility of working with other churches and community groups to develop a local food bank arose, addressing some of the possible deficits of DFCI's loss, and capturing the social conscience of our congregation in a way that DFCI sadly never had... and offering new avenues for service among the needy of our community.

11) The timing of a couple of other things (which must remain un-named at present because they aren't yet in the public domain) which has taken the pressure off in highly pressurised situations... of course they are entirely coincidental and have nothing to do with God looking out for our interests ahead of time.

12) Lots of wee comments and encouragements via, or at least prompted by social media... thank you to all who have in this, or any of the situations above, been conduits of God's grace...

What glimpses of grace were you granted in the past year? May we all celebrate and share God's grace more in the year to come (and hopefully next year won't be quite so bad).

Shalom




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