5 minutes of memories

15 12 2010

The Reverb prompt for today goes like this:

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

(Author: Patti Digh)

I don’t know if I did it right!  But I decided to spend five minutes remembering, then write.  It was a funny sort of exercise – wanting to savour the memories but not wanting to miss important ones!  Having lost my 2010 diary in the move to China, it wasn’t like I could quickly check that I wasn’t missing particular highlights…  And the more I thought of, the more good things there were to remember.

  • The birth of Amos.  Born in January to dear friends, Amos has brought a lot of joy to our lives.  Who would want to forget that amazing sensation of a baby relaxing into your arms and falling asleep?
  • The question and answer session after worship on the Sunday we came to visit Congregation of the Good Shepherd in Beijing.  A graced experience.  A sense that we were on holy ground.  Clarity – knowing that if the congregation extended a call to us we would say “yes”.
  • Sunday night ex-ile and soup in our lounge.  Not one particular moment but the almost generic moment.  Good soup and talking about Big Stuff, and laughing and not laughing and praying and silence and the Real Life that we lived together.
  • Just Worship.  A great gathering in Christchurch with friends old and new.  Good theology.  Easy worship.  Room for trying out ideas and a generous group to engage with.  It was winter.  And I thought it was quite cold!  That was, however, before I moved to Beijing and experienced temperatures in the minus double-digits!!
  • Farewelling. All of it.  The painful bits and the generous bits and the parties and the liturgies and all the things that people feel able to say to each other when someone is moving a long way away.
  • Especially the Farewell liturgy in the Lady Goodfellow Chapel.  There was a moment, looking out over the chapel, the back doors open, the sun shining, people queuing up to light candles and write on paper flowers and out the back a whole lot of bubbles being blown – by porters and professors and counsellors and clerics and children…  People being playful and thankful and gracious and making sacred space together…  It did gladden a chaplain’s heart!
  • Being in the park across the road from the Claudelands Vicarage.  For the last time.  With two of the important children in our life.  Laughing and playing and enjoying.
  • And because I’ve talked about farewelling and am about to make the leap to China as it were, I also would like to insert what I wrote down in my five minutes as “random Dominic moments“.  Because no recollection of 2010 would be complete without acknowledging the delight that our canine friend brought us.  So here’s to having water shaken on you on a hot summer’s day at the river and your sock stolen and the charms of a dog falling asleep with his head on your leg and to playing the monster chasing game with no rules that make any sense but lots of breathless hilarity.  He’s a good dog and we’re glad he got such a great new family when we had to leave him behind.
  • Standing on the Great Wall of China.  We’d arrived.  We were really and truly in China!  And standing on the Wall.  A-maz-ing!
  • Buying a vegetarian stuffed bun for Andrew.  Using only Chinese.  Not even having to supplement it with mime!  And then putting it in the basket of my bicycle and cycling home.
  • Celebrating the first baptism at COGS since arriving.  My first adult baptism as the preacher and “baptiser”.  I’m going to use that same word again – joy.  Joy and privilege!
  • Teaching an admission to communion class around my dining room table.  With children from three countries and four denominational backgrounds.  Including making pikelets.  And then debating the relative merits of nutella, strawberry jam, peanut butter and raspberry jam as pikelet toppings.  I know, peanut butter is a bit of a stretch.  But it made for good contextual theology I tell you!
  • Skype. Skype didn’t feature in our lives before 2010 but it does now.  A lot.  And hanging out with friends by Skype has been an important part of my 2010.
  • Cycling in Beijing. The joy and the terror of it.  Definitely a definitive part of 2010.

Those were the memories I wrote on a list in my “5 minutes”.  Obviously I spent more than 5 minutes writing about them and so have had the joy of an even fuller remembering.  Fortunately, barring some catastrophe, I won’t lose my memory of 2010 anytime soon.  So I’ll continue to experience gratitude for my friends, for this vocation, for the new Beijing adventure, for the partnership with Andrew and the life we share…  And to be thankful for the ways in which where there was no way, Grace makes a way. Where there seems no way, Love finds a way.  2010 has been a year of plenty of grace and lots of love.  (Do we only abstain from Alleluias in Lent, or in Advent too?  I’d bust one out about now if it wasn’t for my liturgical uncertainty!!)




4 responses

16 12 2010
Lilian Nattel

Congratulations on the progress in learning Chinese! Way to go!


16 12 2010
Cathy Buntting

Gorgeous reflections, Jemma, and you’ve inspired me to do some of my own. I was especially touched by the piece about your university farewell, of course. A very special occassion, and I have thought of it often – the things that have been significant in my life and others’ over the previous five years. Also a delightful time of reconnecting with people like Ricky Waters and Lindsay Cumberpatch. I’m so glad that things are going well in China – in spite of the freeze! – and really really appreciate the fact that you make some of your thougths available to the rest of us! Many blessings this first Christmas in a new land!!!


16 12 2010
Mike Murphy-Scanlon

Hi Jemma,
I was just thinking about you as the year ends, and realised this is the time I would usually finally have a few moments to catch up with you. But you’re now thousands of miles away. I miss our catch-ups, albeit too brief most of the time.
So I just thought I would google you while I had a spare moment, and found your blog. I hope to find time to read it all soon. Anyway, I just want to wish you and Andrew a very happy Christmas, and hope you enjoy the festive season. Oh, and God Bless Liturgical uncertainty, it’s one of the few things we can count on. Love from me.


16 12 2010

Nice to see you here Cathy and Mike! Hope you’re enjoying the warmth! And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say – don’t forget Trees at the Meteor is on this week. Great Christmas celebration. With trees and a choir and donkeys!

Lillian, having staggered my way through a revision “take home test” this week all I can say about my Chinese is “must study more”! However it is satisfying to have moments of being a little more able to live here thanks to my toddler-quality sentences!


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