So, here comes my big Christmas confession: I have never seen ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Even now I know some of you are reading this and shaking your head in sorrowful puzzlement about how someone can have avoided a film for the five decades she’s been alive. The honest answer is I have no idea. Just never got around to it like lots of other things.
But I know the basic premise. The man who is shown the difference that living his life has made to others and what it would have been like without him. His realisation that he has made a huge difference helps him to step back from the edge of a very dark place.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve found myself in separate conversations with two dear friends who have been struggling with that daily business of living that occasionally comes to us all. It’s difficult not to offer platitudes on these occasions and I desperately sought the right words to say. In fact, I ended up saying something similar to both of them. The truth is that both of them in their separate ways of been a real help and encouragement and a blessing, not just to me but to so many others. There are people whose lives these two friends have touched and improved without even realising. They probably have no real idea of how much blessing they’ve brought to mine.
I’ve said before that while I am aware that we probably can’t change the whole world, I genuinely believe that we’re only only actually charged to work to make a difference in the bit of the world God has entrusted to us. These two friends have done that without probably realising that’s what they have done. Sometimes we need to hear from each other that kind of encouragement. Not to bolster up our egos, but to pick us up when we’ve got no energy to carry on the slow plodding walk that sometimes our life seems to be.
About eighteen months I wrote a blog called ‘The Footprints that you leave’. It was written in memory of another dear friend Shaun. It could just as easily applied to another friend Kev Hitchens who died just a few months ago and who so many of us loved. Both men who were friends with each other as well as me, were paramedics working in Wiltshire. There are still people walking around living their lives and looking forward to Christmas celebrations who would not be here if it wasn’t for the life-saving efforts of Kev and Shaun. Their footprints are still felt both by those of us who miss them and by those whose lives benefited from being touched by theirs.
One of the most surprising things about 2016 for me has been a discovery that another friend’s music has inspired a small talent for song writing that I never knew I had. More proof if proof were needed of the blessings of friends and how life is better for knowing them. At the moment we have a song in progress called ‘The Footprints That You Leave.’ It was partly inspired by walking the Imber Range Perimeter Path to mark my milestone birthday and also for all the friends who have made so much difference in their lives, often without even realising it to the bit of the world that’s been entrusted to them. It includes these two lines.
‘All the footprints that you leave, make them count, leave them lightly’
‘All the footprints that you leave, make them count, shine more brightly’
Merry Christmas. Perhaps this will be the year I do watch ‘It’s a wonderful life.’ Or better, perhaps I’ll try to commit to telling those around me how much the way they live theirs makes that massive difference as they continue to plod on. And try and leave footprints that leave light tracks rather than crush what’s around me.