Another year is ending.
In just a few hours, night skies across the globe will be splintered with firework celebrations, as the midnight hour sweeps from east to west.
Here in Edinburgh, eighty-thousand revellers are expected to throng the city-centre and cheer and kiss and dance in the New Year.
It's a great celebration: but we still have to face the next day. The headaches of this year will still be there, whether or not we begin the next with a hangover.
So why celebrate?
Perhaps, it's an opportunity to take stock. Like the Roman God Janus, New Year's Eve invites us to look both ways: to the past in gratitude; to the future in hope.
This time last year, my mother had just been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. She'd been given months or even weeks to live. But December came, and her golden wedding anniversary. Looking back at 2016, I'm thankful for this much.
The future is harder to weigh. Perhaps it's simply blind optimism to hope for a fresh start, as the calendar flips back to Jan one.
Or maybe it’s reasonable to have a faith in the goodness of life. But however hard this coming year may be, there will still be friendship, opportunity, satisfaction, laughter – little things that make life worth living.
Minnie Haskins’ much-loved poem captures the trust and trepidation with which we might face the future.
I said to the man who stood at the
gate of the year:
“Give me a light ...
So I pray: Thank you, God, for the year that has passed: for the beauty that we cherish; for the pain we can release. In the darkness of the future, help us to find a guiding hand. Amen.