This past year, 2016, has been a mix of the best of times and worst of times. I feel this not only in the socio-political tensions that continue to rumble through our world, but also in the most personal of my life experiences this year.
Right at the top of this year’s best for me was the birth of my son Oswald – he is a light and a joy that immensely brightens my world. But the worst of this past year came right on the heels of the best as I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer within weeks of Oswald’s birth. For those who I haven’t shared this with I’ll save you the suspense, I had a very successful surgery, and so far the scans and tests say that I am now cancer free and likely to stay that way.
So it is, that with little fanfare, I decided to join in Movember this year and grow a moustache in solidarity with others in raising awareness of men’s health issues. I have never been able grow a great moustache, and as the month comes to an end there is still but a shadow on my upper lip. It’s small, but it’s what I have to offer.
After this year, I’m increasingly okay with offering small but significant actions and gestures in hope of a better world. There is so much I cannot control, can do so little about – Cancer, Politics, War, Poverty. But I can try to be a good neighbour, a caring friend, a loving husband, a doting father. I can grow a crappy little moustache. I can pay attention to what is in front of me and offer what I have to contribute. When it comes to the choices we do have to make David Foster Wallace said “the really important kind of freedom involves awareness, and attention, and discipline, and effort and caring for other people, over and over in myriad petty little unsexy ways every day.” Hard as it is, it is these “petty little unsexy” actions that I’m using more and more to express my hope. In this I also find that, to quote one of my professors, Iain Provan, “Biblical Faith is much more about getting on with ordinary stuff and doing it well and doing it faithfully.”
As we enter the Advent season and wait in anticipation of Christmas remember that in spite of all the noise – amidst the sound and fury, as nations rage and people plot in vain – it is the seemingly insignificant things, like a moustache, like a kind word, like a small and fragile newborn babe, that may carry us forward in hope.
(This is a guest post from my friend Tim Bratton)