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        Simon Parke with his latest book, The Indecent Death of a Madam   Cover of Conversations with Jesus of Nazareth

My special word for 2023

Posted by Simon Parke, 27 December 2022, 5.46pm

Do you have a word for the New Year, for 2023?

My word is unfolding.

It has echoes of Christmas, of course. Opening a present is an unfolding – the folded wrapping around the gift, unfolded to reveal something we may never have guessed at.

I like the word because it carries with it no agenda.

It is quite different from a plan, for instance, which definitely has an agenda and around which expectations can gather.

Expectations have a fixity which can hurt us terribly.

This is a truth brought home to many by the uncertainty of these past few years.

Who saw Covid coming? Who saw Ukraine? Who saw a revolving door of ministers and Prime Ministers? Who saw these fuel prices and devastating inflation? Who saw such present uncertainty with regard to travel and health care?

So many plans - and so many good plans - up in painful smoke.

An unfolding is different. It speaks of a gradual revelation over which we have little or no control. But which can, in some manner, be trusted.

Instead of expectations it brings the kinder and more generous hope.

A good detective story is an unfolding mystery. There are clues along the way but also confusion. We just have to trust the narrative; trust the unfolding.

Like me, you may already be suspicious of plans; you may have discovered that plans don’t often work out.

And they don’t work out because they assume a control we simply don’t have.

We live in fragile days where we have today and maybe tomorrow. And that’s all of the adventure we know….or need to know.

So, we stay present and one day at a time, like extraordinary heroes, we live the unfolding.

And along the way, we find the strength for today, the only strength we need.

As the old blessing has it,

Give to the wind your fears
Hope and be undismayed
God hears your sighs and counts your tears
He shall lift up your head


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