On Births and Beginnings

Dear Father,

A few days ago we celebrated the birth of the Brother-Saviour, and in a few days we shall celebrate the start of a new year. As a young boy growing up in the House I was always pleased and displeased by the coincidence that separated both of these dates. Both celebrations gave the holidays purpose, pointed clearly to why we were offered breaks from school and allowed to waste our days at home. The birth of the Brother-Saviour also came with the reception of gifts from the fabled Father Christmas, and this was a tradition I cherished even after I grew old enough to know that Father Christmas was my father and mother working in tandem. However, gifts and holidays notwithstanding, both days also meant late church vigils and early morning masses; my parents, much to my dismay, were intent on entering and spending a good chunk of the celebratory days in your presence, giving you thanks and asking you favours. As a child I found such endeavours useless and felt that they stole away precious time that could have been spent playing with friends and toying with presents.

Of course as a much older person the significance of both days is much more apparent. It is not lost on me that we celebrate a birth on one day and the beginning of a new year on the other. Births themselves mark a beginning. They inform us of the start of new lives, filled with possibilities and hopes and chances yet to be taken. And a new year for many marks an opportunity to give this life another go, to try once more to achieve that of which they have already spent years in pursuit. There is a strong sense of finality and hope in this week, even amongst those that do not share a belief in your House and the things it represents. The start of the new year is enough for most to look to the future with anticipation, to offer their fevered and expectant prayers to you and other Fathers in other Houses for what they wish to achieve or meet or see in the next 12 months, regardless of whether or not they truly believe in you or whether or not they have faithfully kept your edicts.

And so Father, as I am as much a child as the rest of my brethren, I once again put aside the questions and feelings that have arisen from my journey, and I allow myself to be filled with hope for the future, hope that your earth will become a better place in the coming year; that fewer will suffer, that fewer will lose the things they hold dear; that more will be happy, that more will be fulfilled; that fewer die in their youth and that more die ripe with age, ready to leave the wonderful lives they have led and rest once and for all. I allow myself to hope against history and Doubt and pessimism that wars will end this coming year; that the poor will be clothed and fed, and that all your children, regardless of creed and colour, would grow closer, inspired by the understanding that the many things that make us different make us stronger. I allow myself to hope that the love exemplified by your sacrifice (pointless as it may seem) will be more evident in the coming years than it has been since, and that more of us understand this kind of love and manifest it in our lives, sacrificing our wants for the needs of those less fortunate.

My once little friend, ever ready with words of contradiction, shakes his head with pity, but for the next few days I will not care; I will allow myself to hope. May my hope not be for naught, dearest Father; may it not be for naught.

With an expectant heart,

Your Prodigal Son

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