I love this time of year. Despite all that has been done to neutralise it , commercialise it, emasculate it and turn it into one long meaningless party, only interrupted by bells, all the effort to make it yet another frolicking hyped up winter festival, played out on the Capital’s streets or on TV, for unashamed commercial gain, it is still special. It is still significant. It still means something, connecting us, as it does, to an ancient drama that stretches back through history. It is to do with the ordering of time. It is to do with the fact that time doesn’t just pass in an endless dribble but has been, and is, ordered into minutes and hours and days and seasons and years and decades and millennium. We get something of the majestic beauty of this from the creation narrative in Geneses, when, out of seeming chaos, God created order: earth and sky, light and darkness, land and sea, rocks and plants, fish birds and animals, times and seasons and us at the centre of it. His verdict on all they had done was that it was good and good, and very good.
And so for me Hogmanay is like taking a rest on a long hill climb, finding a smooth rock to sit on, a sandwich and flask of coffee from the bag, and with the legs hanging free, gazing back down the slope and pondering where and how we have come this far. Taking the space and time to reflect: to identify the difficult terrain that was so hard to negotiate, the seemingly endless bog we had to get through somehow, the unprotected windswept ridge when we felt so isolated and alone, the weary slope when we wondered why we had bothered to come at all. At the same time: looking back on the pleasant path by the burn with the surprising warmth of the sun, and the richness of the colours and scent springing up from the soil and the kindness of travelling companions. And somehow at the same time thinking about the way ahead, looking upwards, considering and wondering what might lie beyond the first outcrop and how long it will take till we reach the summit.
So for me it is a time to pause: to look back with genuine gratitude and to look forward, knowing that whatever it will be, it will be for good and good and very good.