There’s something special about being on the edge of a precipice.
I find it a little terrifying the way a big drop seems to suck you in, but the exhilaration of standing on the edge is always worth it (although some may disagree, or some like Tiaan may agree a little too eagerly before he jumps off with his parachute!). But no one can deny the views – if you’re standing on top of something worthy of bearing the name of a precipice, then the views are inevitably amazing.
Being in a high place seems to bring perspective, I think. You get to see the world below you in a way you’re not used to, and it helps you understand a lot of the bits and pieces, even ones that you know may know quite well, in a slightly different way, and so they end up better understood for it. And I think that perspective sometimes transcends the views you may be looking at, because so often I think we all find ourselves taking a moment to consider things, and indeed our lives, from a slightly different perspective from a precipice, if given the chance to do so.
And so we find ourselves on the edge of a precipice for the year as well. I’ve realised that thinking of Decembers as a bit of a mountain works quite well at Madwaleni. Sure it’s a rough season for us at work; flocks of folks migrate back from working places in cities and mines and our drainage area swells substantially, public holidays and a rather enthusiastic zeal for festivities seem to frequently backfire into stabbings and blunt trauma which come rolling through our merry doors quite predictably on long weekends, and add to all of this the biannual circumcision season reaching its conclusion in late December – unfortunately a conclusion most often marked by violence as alcohol, testosterone and blood flow a little too freely at many of the circumcision celebrations following the successful return of these young men from the ‘mountain’ or the bush – and we have our work cut out for us in Decembers! But that’s not quite what I’d like to say about Decembers and mountains.
I quite like the way that Decembers offer a rare opportunity for a view. It’s like the year builds up more and more until we reach a pinnacle in December, where we get to stand up on the precipice of a new year and enjoy the view for a moment before we go diving into the depths of potential that the coming year holds for us. For me it’s as much a time to look ahead – a chance to sit for a moment and refocus, to shake off the mud of a busy year, and to put ourselves back on the road towards our goals and hopes and dreams about the plans God may have for our lives – as it is a time to look back on the year past, and a chance to be thankful for everything that we’ve come through. And inevitably, it’s been a lot!
I don’t think I can speak for the entirety of the hospital, for it is a place of many people and their lives and so to undertake such a summary I think is beyond just me. But amongst our little community of doctors and ‘allieds’ and all those loved ones who go with them, I think it’s fair to say that it’s been a rich year of new friends and family and experiences: of good times and some harder times; of minor setbacks and seemingly more devastating blows (that were somewhat cushioned by fresh outlooks and the support of a loving community); and of small wins and great victories. Of so much, so many stories to tell, that I cannot tell all of them. So I won’t try.
But I will say that more than anything else at Madwaleni, I’m most thankful to God for the loving and flourishing community that we get to share here. And as we say goodbye (for now) to the guys leaving us, I, and all of us, are grateful and richer for all the times we’ve had sharing life together, and I pray that all of you leaving will find yourselves in the midst of much love and great adventure and deep contentment, wherever you may go.
So to Francey, Janet and Shane, Louis, Mike, Monique and Rachel – we love you guys!
And to the new guys getting ready to join us at Mads – here’s to an exciting (and probably a little crazy) year ahead!
P.S. I’ve just spotted Dyl’s post!… goes to show how we’re all feeling just as nostalgic after such an amazing year together. So let this then just serve to add to the love 🙂