Last night I bought and decorated my Christmas tree; it looks gorgeous! This week it has felt cold enough to snow, although it’s so rare that it actually snows in central London that we have to put up with the shivering without the benefit of snow-days. I have just one week left of my first semester as a Masters student. This collection of seemingly unrelated facts, when brought together acts as a reminder that 2012 will soon be leaving.
It’s about this time every year when I start to make an internal audit of the year that’s past. How did I fare? What did I experience and what did I achieve emotionally, practically, professionally, and spiritually? Whilst it certainly wasn’t free from undulation and it featured a passing tempest or two, 2012 overall, was a pretty good year. Yet I’m sure, there is always opportunity to do better next year.
Quaker Advices & Queries is a collection of short questions and recommendations aimed at inspiring reflection amongst Friends on how to live. From this collection, one of my favourite advices states,
"Live adventurously. When choices arise, do you take the way that offers the fullest opportunity for the use of your gifts in the service of God and the community? Let your life speak…"
Live adventurously; let your life speak. That’s some pretty rousing advice! But how ought it best to be interpreted? Sometimes when I read this passage I think that I’m doing okay but at other times I’m sure I’m failing. Whilst there are other times still when the advice leaves me perplexed… I went white-water rafting last month, does that count?
But I guess to really live adventurously is to allow every aspect of your life to be open to new experiences, new directions and to recognize that feeling fearful or nervous from time to time is probably a good thing.
I was reflecting upon my year as I wandered the cold streets of London yesterday, dodging slippery icy patches, when I realized that the ice offered a neat example of this quest to live adventurously (yes, I know this sounds a little cheesy but a) welcome to my world and b) I think the analogy actually works quite beautifully!). Life, for the most part, can be a bit like standing in the middle of a frozen lake. To take a step in an unfamiliar direction is to face our own boundaries, our own fears, even our own mortality; because truly if we tread too heavily on the wrong spot, we’ll plummet into the freezing cold waters below.
Yet we’re called to live adventurously. What will be achieved and what of the world can we experience by staying static, by standing on our tried and tested square of thick ice?
The world beyond that which we know is scary; but equally it may also be beautiful and enriching. This year I hope that I’m not alone in trying, as best I can, to live adventurously. For it may be easy to stick within your comfort zone and stand in your safe space, but it ought not to be forgotten that all of the ice melts in the end.
Photo credit: Jonathan Dando.
Charlotte is an interfaith activist and self-confessed Religious Studies geek currently undertaking a Masters at SOAS, University of London. Charlotte’s interests include religious diversity, pluralism, multiculturalism, Quakerism, equality and blogging: all fueled by oolong tea. @CharlotteDando