This year we were fortunate to see in the New Year in spectacular style, thanks to the hospitality of a new friend met through church. After making each other's acquaintance towards the tail end of an evening at a laid back bar mid-December, this initial conversation turned into an invitation to a 1920s themed fancy dress frolic. Complete with an incredible six course meal whipped up by aforementioned friend and her equally industrious flatmate, it was an event any 20th century socialite would have given their long-stringed pearls away to be a part of.
The picture above is a snapshot of the 20s inspired display that adorned the stairway landing - just one of the many artistic finishing touches that made the flat such a fitting venue for the first half of our evening. Towards midnight we all moved on to another flat to toast out the old year, relishing an amazing rooftop view before dancing in the new dawn. Definitely a night to remember, and one of the main reasons why it's stuck in my mind is that it originated out of such spontaneous generosity and involved meeting such interesting and easy-to-get-on-with people.
I certainly don't claim that the church has a monopoly on indiscriminate acts of kindness, and its unkindnesses are as real and deeply wounding as any group of flawed individuals is capable of inflicting. But there is something truly beautiful when the biblical metaphors of being a family and a body feel like a reality because of the 'click' of collective connection between strangers through shared values and hopes in God. And collective hope is the surely the key ingredient in any great New Year's event: seeing in a fresh twelve months with intrepid optimism and the feeling that everything can begin again.
For my part, I would like it if my beginning again included actively looking for more ways to be generous in a social and global climate of great hardship. It's not really a resolution, it's hopefully something more empowering - more like a prayer.