One tradition amongst gardeners is to plant garlic on the shortest day of the year and to anticipate harvesting them on the longest day. So, on 22nd December, just hours after the winter solstice I planted my row of Solent Wight garlic. It seems typical of my activity over the last week – preparing for the future by taking action now. 

This is as usual a time of endings and beginnings. So there are things to finish off and other things to start. These last few weeks have felt like a mini-holiday as I have attended the last meetings for which I had some responsibility, and I have not yet taken on the onus of the new role which starts at the new year. But hand-overs have been completed and succession planning undertaken to ensure a smooth transition. 

I have virtually completed my essay for this term, which has been on the theory and methods of post-graduate research. It has been quite different, with students from as far away as Sweden and Australia sharing their ideas about their research into, for example, the identity politics of European countries, or culture as a means to peace-making. The podcasts have been a little odd, with one week on complexity and another on statistical analysis of quantitative research. However, the overall effect has been very helpful in developing ideas for the dissertation.

I have also begun to agree dates of meetings and build relationships within the new committee I will be responsible for. I have asked each person to write a profile of about two hundred words which gives some idea off their previous experience and skills that they bring to our work together. Those that I have received already are proving fascinating and helpful. I am also having conversations about possible roles each individual might play; asking them where they feel they have most to contribute and seeing where I can best put my efforts. 

One of the readings at the Bible Study this week seems remarkably relevant. It is one of the Servant Songs from Isaiah. Though the servant is referred to as a person, it is likely that it is meant to be the people who have been chosen. So Chapter 42, paraphrased in a plural form is,

“Look here are my servants, whom I support; my chosen ones whom I encourage; I will put my spirit in them, and they will bring justice to the nations. They will not shout or yell, or raise their voice in the media. A fragile twig they will not break, and a flickering light they will not snuff out. In faithfulness they will work for justice; they will not falter or be discouraged till they establish justice on earth.”

A comment made by one member of the Group, was that this is inspiring because this is an approach that builds up rather than knocking down, but change will still be achieved.

My hope for next year is that there may be justice and peace, love and joy,  brought about by non-violent means, and that I might play a constructive role in helping others to bring about change for good.

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