Does anyone remember Julie Andrews singing about her favourite things in The Sound of Music? I was thinking about this song when looking through some of my favourite photographs, recent and not so recent. But then I thought about the process of remembering favourite things in general, and the need to be joyful more often. While good memories warm our hearts in a way that is beneficial for our wellbeing, it is not just about memories, but also things in the present. How good are we at giving thanks? Are we better at rejoicing than we are at being miserable? How does it affect our Father in Heaven when we miss the beauty and spend more time complaining than smiling from the inside out?
I took the above photograph at daybreak at Porto Airport in Portugal in November. I had spent three days on business in Portugal working with one of my favourite people, who sadly I only get to see once every blue moon. Rui is a gentleman of great generosity. He leads his company by personal example and I consider him a special friend. Despite spending much of his time on secondment to other tasks in South America he arranged to be back in Portugal for my visit so that we could meet up again. He could have assigned other people to look after me, but he came in person. And as for Portugal, well I have eaten some of my favourite food in Portugal.
My family moved back to England from Guernsey when I was eleven. At this time Guernsey was all I knew. How I miss this small beautiful island that is so dear to my heart. The opportunities to visit have been infrequent in recent years, but I take great joy at some of the photographs I see posted on Facebook by folk in Guernsey. Given the chance I would love to return and relive my childhood over and over again. But I can’t. God had different plans and I rejoice instead in the very different beauty of the Welsh Marches where I have lived for nearly forty years.
In the last two weeks my two youngest children have managed to board the wrong trains, while I very nearly missed a train to London this week because I set the wrong time on my alarm clock. I managed to get from bed via shower to car in fifteen minutes and arrived at the station with a few minutes to spare. Dawn started to break about halfway through my journey and God treated me to the most beautiful of sunrises coupled with stunning early morning views of the English countryside. And I felt blessed, incredibly blessed to be on the right train. God has a knack of ensuring that we are in the right place at the right time, although we may not see it at the time.
So today in remembering a few of my favourite things such as people, places, food and sunrises I find myself rejoicing in the love of God my Creator and my Father, who seeks nothing more than to rejoice in me. Isn’t that what any parent wants of their children?
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 NIV)