4 searching questions for a New Year

.. and for the pending conclusion of my life. 

I've been reading the late Dr Denise Inge's book,  "A Tour of Bones - facing fear and looking for life"

You could describe it as a description of a tour of four charnel houses in Europe. Or as emanating from living over the bones underneath the house of the Bishop of Worcester, to whom she was married. Or even as her thoughts on life and death when faced with her own threatened early demise from cancer (which was sadly earlier this year).

The writer, P D James, describes it as "A beautifully-written book ... One which celebrates not death but life, and how, by confronting the fear and inevitability of our end, we can embrace life and live it more abundantly."

I'm not facing a known and imminent death - only the fact that I will, like you and everyone else, one day someday die. Life, earthly life, is terminal. So I too want to embrace life and live it more abundantly, knowing that life is a gift, one that is short and unique and mine for a while. While I believe that there is more to come after death and that the Life After Death is an eternal gift without measure, the life that I have now is not as appreciated or embraced as it might be.

The four questions posed by Denise Inge, disquieting questions, profound questions, seem a good place to begin what is left of my life, a life which is about to step over  into  new season: 2015.   Although I have to say that September still feels more like the new beginning of a new year than January ever does, still the calendar commences afresh. And I have a new journal - which I shall excitedly open, inscribe "Penelope Swithinbank - 2015" and anticipate and appreciate the clean new pages and what they may contain. A sense of excitement, of the chance for a re-beginning, a glimpse of untrodden boundless possibilities.

So I am taking these four questions as my guide for the next twelve months.

- Are the broken parts of your deepest self being healed?

- Have you found a lasting hope?

- What are the things for which you will be remembered?

- Are you on a path of true humility? (and, I would add, of gratitude. For gratitude makes whatever we have enough.)

Facing a new season, facing 2015, facing the inevitably of your own demise, how would you answer these questions? And what would your own four questions be to yourself for this new year?

I open the journal (lined this year, unusually for me) and begin to write .......

A blessing for the new year: you can click HERE to hear the beautiful words as arranged by John Rutter:

May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you and give you peace.