WE have a new member of our family.
A second cockapoo puppy, Hettie, has just joined me, my husband, three children, and our existing dog, Jessie, in the chaotic routine of clergy family life.
The first few days were eventful.
A doggy tummy bug meant sleepless nights, early morning baths, an expensive trip to the wonderful emergency vet, and the purchase of more multipacks of kitchen roll and antibacterial spray than I care to count.
The older dog was not amused.
It wasn’t that she was aggressive or anything.
She just looked at us with the puzzled countenance of one who couldn’t understand why on earth we would have introduced this none-too- fragrant whirlwind into our lives.
Where were her owners? When would they be taking her to her forever home, for surely she would not be staying here?
There was no room at this inn, as far as Jessie was concerned.
As the illness progressed, however, things changed.
Jessie stood over the whining, sickly puppy in the middle of the night, and, in conversational canine tones, both comforted and told her off.
Subdued, Hettie did as she was told and shut up. Sleep – for all of us – followed.
Antibiotics and an anti-sickness jab did their job.
A little snoring may have been heard. Peace reigned. We were thankful.
This Christmas, I am looking forward to that moment when the busyness of life subsides and I can experience enough stillness to appreciate the gift that is about to appear.
I often find it when I come home after midnight mass, driving home through quiet streets, praying for the city, knowing that the part of the world where I belong is sleeping, while God delivers his Son to us in a stinky stable.
For people who are displaced, homeless, or facing conflict in their lives, my stresses and strains will seem trivial.
Their peace and stillness may still be a long way off, while I have some hope of hanging up the stockings and sinking into a cosy bed on Christmas Eve, as both dogs slumber quietly in their baskets.
Whatever you are facing, wherever and whenever you find your peace, I hope that you can take a moment of stillness to recognise God’s everlasting gift to us, as Jesus Christ is born again this Christmas.
n The Archdeacon of Portsdown supports Church of England parishes across Portsmouth and Havant.
Archdean Grenfell supports parishes in Portsmouth and Havant