Recently we went to stay with my eldest brother up in Newcastle. Whilst we were there we made a day trip by train to one of my favourite places in the world, Durham. For four years, this lovely tiny city was like a second home.
It was wonderful to go back to some of my old favourite places. Vennels, my cafe of choice all those years ago, the wonderful cathedral cloisters and, of course my old college, St Johns.
We decided to actually go inside Johns, just to see the entrance hall. The kind porter on duty actually gave us a key (!) and allowed us to look around. As we travelled through the maze of warren-like corridors, memories and nostalgia overwhelmed me. The old place still had the same comforting smell. It smelt of friends, fun and long ago times. My mind’s eye was alive with colours and conversations from the past.
I ran up the stairs to the place my bedroom had been for two years, above a small lecture theatre in the Cranmer Hall end of the college. And there it was: My bedroom door, wide open!! I peered in to see it was being decorated. Much had changed, but it was still undeniably my old room. The same stunning view of The Bailey. The same amazing old windows. Just half the size of the original massive space I had once shared.
Again the memories tumbled into my mind. Parties, laughter, intimate moments, friendships, midnight feasts, late night walks, an explicable full paddling pool in the corner… and a bit of studying…!
I suddenly remembered that I had spent so much time in that room lying awake, dreaming of what I would become. Would I be a teacher? Would I be a singer? Would I ever make a CD? Would I be an author? Would I get married? Would I have children? Would I be a speaker?
The questions and dreams would come thick and fast as my room mate, Webby (the adorable Katherine Webster) and I would chat into the early hours and be awake as the friendly two am chimes of the cathedral bells rang out just down the little medieval road.
Since my return from the north east I have been so aware of how much I have to be thankful for. My life has certainly not been dull! There are achievements to look back on and highlights to measure and celebrate.
God has had His hand upon me. He hasn’t always let me follow the path I had imagined, and many of the timings of my life have been different to my original plans, but He has always been faithful and has kept every promise to me.
God has granted me every desire that my heart had all those years ago. (21 years, to be precise) This inspires me! It may have taken 21 years for some of those dreams to come to fruition (and I am sure they will carry on being played out) but the timing has always been utterly of Him.
I hope that encourages you. I hope it makes you look back on your own life and consider how much God has had His hand on your dreams too.
I believe that God gave a porter in Durham a key to a piece of my history last week that he wanted me to rediscover. Isn’t He the kindest most gentle Father?!