I am spending New Year’s Eve on Lord Howe Island with Sandy and some friends. Yesterday I wandered through the Lord Howe Island museum and came across an exhibit that quite moved me. On June 16, 1951 two young men, Tom Payten and Bryant Smythe, set out on a fishing trip. Later that day Tom’s father wrote this in the front of his bible.
“Last saw my dearest boy Sabbath 16 on his way fishing. Weather getting worse all day
The boys didn’t return that day and the next day Tom’s father made another entry
“Sat night the longest night of my life. Still hoping.
On the 23rd another entry
“Sabbath again – 23. All hope gone – he will never come back again.”
The love of the father for his son is heavy in every letter of every short sentence. The pride of the first entry dissolving into fear and hope before collapsing into despair.
“He will never come back again.”
It reminds me that life is beautiful yet fragile, that we rush headlong into life and it throws up unexpected joys and griefs, but that above all it is made rich by love – the love of two friends sharing a fishing trip, the love of a father for a son and son for father.
As I head into a new year I do so with the determination that I will make 2016 a year rich in love; that I will take time to love and be loved; that I will create lots of space in my life for my children, to cherish Sandy, to enjoy family and friends, and to reach beyond these circles to be a lover of the wounded, vulnerable and oppressed across the earth.