“I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains, and then find somewhere where I can rest… I might find somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days.”
J R R Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring
Today’s wandering takes us to some very special mountains. The volcanoes of the central plateau in New Zealand’s North Island. I have visited this area many times over the years and experience a different mood each time.
Again, quite a bit of filming around here for Lord of the Rings movies…. it definitely has a Middle Earth magic.
Before we leave the UK and head back to New Zealand, we have to stop briefly at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London!
I have visited this incredible experience twice and I have hundreds of photos. It was so difficult to choose a few to share for this virtual wander. I settled on some from my winter wander. It was Christmas at Hogwarts. Pure magic!
The magic is in all the little details you discover. The pics will never do this justice. Even if you are not a big fan of the movies, this experience is still worth a visit.
Signing off this post with a couple of great J K Rowling quotes:
It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
One way to define advent is the anticipation of a coming event. Historically Advent has been associated with the lead up to Christmas and involves particular rituals and traditions in the Christian faith.
These days advent has taken on a number of different meanings. I think for many people today the “anticipation” is simply the stress of being caught up in the consumerism juggernaut that is the lead up to the festive season, worries over finances and being able to afford the “expected” way to celebrate or sadness at what can be the loneliest time of year for some.
For me, it has always been “the most wonderful time of the year”. And what I have come to realise is just how much this season means to me and my mental and emotional well-being, of all things!
Anticipation of a coming event. To me this anticipation is the expectation of a positive experience, a child-like excitement. At my age I certainly can’t put this down to getting up at the crack of dawn to open Christmas presents…. those days are long gone!
Now advent is steeped in ritual.
Some advent rituals are around preparation for the coming celebration that is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the family time we are so privileged to share. Advent in my world is a way of keeping those loved ones who have passed or that live far away close by…. part of our reflection and celebration, always in our hearts.
Other rituals centre around my need to reflect – on the year that has been as it winds to a close, checking in with my dream life goals, a gratitude practice…. and gradually beginning to set the intent for the coming year.
A reflection this advent is just how lucky I am to have these positive, uplifting memories of childhood Christmases to draw on. As well as a rich source of family ritual and tradition to continue observing. And how lucky I am, being so wired to the idea of seasons and cycles, that my work allows me to take the time at this time of year to acknowledge advent in my own quirky way.
The baubles and tinsel have been carefully packed away for another year. The pantry is clear of all those little indulgences. Boxing Day sales have been and gone. Even the fireworks and the countdowns and the resolutions have been ticked off.
Now the balmy days of summer stretch ahead. This time of year toys with me. Do I give into moments soaking up the sun, afternoon naps, sipping cool drinks while curled up with a good book and totally relish no responsibilities, deadlines, timetables, etc.? Or do I allow the New Year’s rejuvenation to reinvigorate and work, plan, list, do for the coming months? This year I opted for ticking off a to do list and relishing in a sense of productiveness.
But right this moment I pause to reflect on yet another festive season gone by. What does is all mean really? What is the point?
I pause in gratitude for the safe, beautiful place I live. A place where a festive season held no loss, no tragedy, no hate, no violence. For me it held family, belonging, blessings, love and the gift of hope for our futures.
I so appreciate being able to get wrapped up in the Christmas “hype” but still not allowing it to be in a superficial way. But rather in a way that celebrates the blessings me and my family have been gracefully given.
Here are a couple of blessings – one for Christmas and one for the New Year – that speak to me about the truth of this season:
Even though we are 16 days into 2015, I wish all humanity a blessed year ahead.