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Tied up in knots along with the strings of Christmas lights he's packing away, Nathan Ahearne ponders the need to finish the year well.

It’s about this time of year that I begin to wrestle with strings of Christmas lights, as we pack away decorations and turn our attention to the new year ahead of us. Over the years I’ve become more disciplined at precisely winding Christmas lights, carefully identifying the ends and not mixing up power adaptors. It was not always this way. 

I don’t know if it was laziness, lack of foresight or my urgency to get back to the sports channel, but I would casually pull them down, throw them in a box and hope for the best. Needless to say, this laissez-faire approach led to tangled knots, broken lights and hours of frustration eleven months down the track. I only wish I could say that this self-sabotage was limited to Christmas decorations. 

Earlier this year I was stopped at an airport, as my work bag was closely scrutinised in the x-ray machine due to a huge assortment of tangled cables and other bits and pieces. I probably don’t fit the profile of a bomb maker, but that x-ray painted a different picture. 

Taking the time, patience and care to neatly store cables is something that I’m trying to apply more broadly in my life. Instead of dumping and running between activities, relationships, projects and hobbies, I’m deliberately allocating time to slow down and wind things up properly. 


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It’s a process that can be applied to the end of the year, the end of a project, the end of a meal and the end of the day. Taking those precious minutes to finish properly is good for future me, but it also provides a few moments of mindfulness before the next zoom meeting, the next chore and the start of the next year. In those tedious and dull moments of winding up lights, sorting washing or putting cutlery away, I have time to ponder life, to examine my conscience or say a quite prayer of gratitude.


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What does all of this frenetic energy lead to? A long list of achievements and a tangled mess that awaits us. #catholicmom

Modern life tempts us to go from one thing to the next without taking a breath. Increasingly, more employees are eating lunch at their desks and cramming in hours so they can squeeze more into evenings. What does all of this frenetic energy lead to? A long list of achievements and a tangled mess that awaits us. Is this what Jesus meant when he said to have life and have it to the full?

Marie Kondo’s solution is to declutter, simplify and remove anything that doesn’t spark joy. But our lives are more than aesthetic beauty and the pursuit of happiness. We are made to encounter life in the full, in all of its tangles, pain and complexity.

Mary the Untier of Knots gives us a wonderful example of patience, foresight and taking time to see the tangles of life and relationships more clearly. May God’s grace flow through our lives and bless all those we encounter, as we slowly wind up this year and prepare for what lies ahead.


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Copyright 2021 Nathan Ahearne
Images: Christmas lights copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved; Judgefloro, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons