In my last post, I promised a third part. This is not that third part - I’m still working on that. This is ‘merely’ my review of 2018. For some reason I’m writing it on my birthday. I’m not sure why that is - except that it seems apt at this point to take a hard, contemplative, look back at my year. It’s been a year of incredible contrasts - highs and lows, illness and wellness, from times of feeling as if God had abandoned me to times of feeling as though I was dwelling ‘within’ the Holy Trinity and partaking in the ‘Divine Dance’.

In some ways this year has been defined (not to mention limited) by the physical. I began the year suffering from two cardiac arrhythmias - atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter. Nine months were spent struggling against them, desperately trying to ‘keep going’, whilst waiting, impatiently, for a treatment which would ‘work’ and being desperately disappointed by those which didn't. The last three months have been spent recovering from the ‘procedure’ to ‘fix’ them. The procedure - a pair of cardiac ablations performed at the end of September - appear to have worked spectacularly well, given how well I am now. In typical fashion though, I am waiting - again - this time for the results of a 24 hour cardiac monitor which should, I hope, prove that it’s worked. And then, hopefully, I can stop taking the medication and really put it all behind me. In the meantime though, I do feel as though, to use a common euphemism, ‘I have got my life back’.

Mentally, it’s been a tough year, with lots of ups and downs. Coping with the condition (above) was tough, and at one stage I was diagnosed with depression - which seems now to have passed, alongside the improvement in my physical condition, though I do sometimes feel a bit ‘fragile'. As well as the deep, dark, lows, there are been incredible highs - like my son Tim’s wedding, and my daughter Anna beginning to fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor by going to medical school.

Spiritually, the year has been ‘interesting’. Being unwell, and having very little energy, severely restricted my activity. That meant taking things slowly, and spending a lot of time sitting resting. That allowed me to do a lot of reading, thinking, praying and, perhaps above all (and including the previous), contemplating the divine. I have learnt a lot - about God, about scripture, and about myself and my relationship to God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not only have I been learning about God, but I have been experiencing Him in new and deeper ways - dreams, visions, revelations, conversations.

There have been real lows - moments during my illness when I have felt as though I had been abandoned by God - times when Jesus’ words on the cross ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’became horribly real. But followed by a dawning realisation that He hadn’t abandoned me - I had shut Him out of my life and my suffering, which then led to a new revelation and new realisation of just how loved I am. My reactions don’t affect how he feels about me, or treats me - I get the feeling that He loves to pick me up when I’ve fallen, dust me off, heal the cuts and bruises… And then to do it all again the next time - with that infinite ’seventy times seven’ patience, and never a hint of ‘Oh, here we go again'. I truly am beloved by God.

That led to incredible highs, and yet more revelations. And that has given rise to some difficulties. There are things which I have experienced, and learned deep within, particularly over the course of the last six months, which I have been keeping mostly to myself - partly because some of them are controversial in some quarters, and partly because I just don’t have the faintest idea how to put them into words (yet). In that vein I had a long conversation with an old friend at the beginning of this week - a former vicar of our church, now a bishop. His advice, from a point further along the same journey, was to be open about my journey, where I have come from and where I appear to be going... Those who really love me will not desert me, he assures me; God will certainly not. So 2018 may well end, or 2019 begin, with some slightly ‘unusual’ revelations from hereabouts - if I can find the words. Or it might not - certainly not if I ‘bottle out’ anyway - I’m not sure how brave I feel.

Here’s wishing you a merry, and blessed, Christmas, and a happy New Year.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2022