Press on

Dear Oscar,

2013 is finally coming to an end.  What a long year this must have been for you, a year of shattering tragedy, followed by uphill struggle from the depths of despair towards the light.

The year is about to turn, by the time you read this, it probably will already have turned.  What will 2014 hold for you?  More challenges, as for all of us.  None of us knows our future.  We have plans, certainly, and resolutions, probably, things we intend to give up, to do better in the future.  And you, Oscar?  Do you look beyond March?  

There have been times in my life when some momentous and important event is in my future, sometimes pleasurable, such as a holiday.  Very often, though, there have been uncertain things to look forward to.  On those occasions I frequently find myself thinking, if I can just get through that, I will be alright.  Sometimes, the future appears to be so dark that I cannot see further than the object of my focus.   In that moment, there are no days beyond, because they are out of my imagining.

Oscar, I don’t know if you have felt like this, but I suspect that, at some point, you probably have.  But take heart, dear boy.  You and I have something more to hold on to, a hope that takes us out of the human condition and allows us to transcend those things that would keep us earthbound.  Can I encourage you today to do a brave thing?  Look beyond.  Look past March, look into the mists of 2014.

I believe you are a young man of great courage, and strength of character.  How much you have already achieved!  We have seen you set your face, and with that gritty determination that defines you, you have pressed on, to achieve what your heart longed for.

© Mark Ralston, Getty Images

This image is a familiar sight to you, I am sure.  When you see such a picture, do you remember the strength that went into that moment, that incredible surge of power that lifted you upwards and forwards?  And what is your focus?  The tape, of course, but also, I believe, beyond.  Do you fix you sights upon bursting through that flimsy barrier, when you will fling your arms high in triumph, your goal achieved?

I think you do.  Now, Oscar, a different tape awaits you, but one which you can take, with that strength of heart that has always set you above the ordinary.  Fix your eyes, then, beyond that finish line, set your sights on your future, as yet dimly seen, but which surely awaits you – that moment when once again, you will fling your arms high in victory. 

“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, 14 I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3, 13-14. Amen. 

With much love, dear Oscar, and anticipation for 2014,

Julia, UK


‘Owl always love you, my little chickadee, owl always love you, you mean the world to me’
– Robyn Spizman

Dear Oscar,

Midnight always comes. The darkest of the night, when our imagination runs wild and we fear what isn’t even real. But with the deepest of nocturne comes a sharpness of sight, a primal guidance, for what we lack in one sense, is always doubled in another. We are never left lacking; the Almighty makes sure of that.

In the darkness you are never alone, for the night belongs to the owl, the ancient sentinel of divinity. She appears at night, when people are helpless and blind, her wide, all-seeing eyes cut through the darkness, seeing what others cannot. Nothing gets past her, nor will she be deceived. Owl sees all and knows all. The Greek goddess Athena carried an owl on her shoulder and it lit up her blind side, allowing her to speak the whole truth, rather than a mere part of it. Owls have extraordinary vision and insight and this is why they are known collectively as a wisdom.

Owl is the link between the dark and the light. She silently keeps watch from her hollow like a protector spirit. Her large saucer eyes bring a piece of the moon – its wisdom and glory – down to earth, allowing us to adjust to our truths in the shadows until we are ready to face the full glare of the day. And when you’re ready to walk your path, Owl glows in the moonlight, her wings luminescent, her body glowing like a lantern. Swift and silent she wings her way across the night’s expanse, moving with strength and purpose to light up the road ahead.

So, dear Oscar, instead of fearing the soon-to-come, write down the dreams you still have, the things you wish to achieve, and write down too the priceless and wonderful things you have already done. Then take that sheet of paper and stride into that forest and leave it in the nook of a tree. Imagine the bark growing over it, sealing it inside. Your words become part of the tree, then the tree grows, its branches stretching up to the heavens and out around the globe, its roots burrowing deep into the rich earth, its fruit and nuts carried away by birds and animals, creating new trees, each guarded by its own wise, loving owl — every one of us a gleaming candle, guiding you home. Each proudly carrying a piece of your own light.

We see beyond the half-truths, Oscar. We will light up the nighttime and wait quietly with you to herald the new dawn.

Midnight always comes but you won’t be alone.

We’ll face 2014 together.

Love and blessings,

Laura and Carly

CandleForestcollage4[2]1~ click to enlarge ~

Cup of Kindness

Dear Oscar,

In Britain, on New Year’s Eve, it is traditional to stay up and see out the old year.

Its exit is usually a noisy and excitable event as Britons all over the country join in parties, fireworks, singing and dancing to ring out the old year and welcome in the new.

big ben countdown

London’s South Bank, is a great place to be on New Year’s Eve. Finding a premium space close to the historical and beautiful Palace of Westminster and overlooking the River Thames, the excitable crowds wait patiently for Big Ben to chime. In friendly harmony, the crowd and those watching across the nation count down together, and as the hands of the Westminster clock momentarily cross paths and point North in unison, the iconic bell with its familiar chimes strikes midnight and joyfully heralds in the New Year.  Fireworks playfully light up the sky as distorted shapes, and diluted colours, reflect and ripple across the surface of Old Father Thames. And at that moment, across the country, people of all generations cross their arms over their chests, link hands with those close to them, and sing the traditional Scottish song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and the familiar lyric symbolising friendship; ‘we’ll take a cup of kindness yet’ becomes a poignant reminder of old friends and new. Hugs and kisses are shared and “Happy New Year” sentiments seal the inevitable arrival of another year.

big ben 2

In reality, the changeover from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day is but one brief moment in time. However, this fleeting transition symbolises a notable event as the old year passes the baton on to the new, a now spent participant in a seemingly never-ending relay. Sometimes, the year has been kind, our memories are happy, comfortable, and we are reluctant to let it go. Other times, we are relieved to put the year and its troubles behind us, commit painful memories to the archive of times gone by and move hopefully on to the next.

Oscar, I can’t profess to understand exactly how you will feel as you say goodbye to 2013 but only the hardest of hearts could fail to empathise. And whilst you no doubt head into 2014 with trepidation and uncertainty, I have a resolute belief in your innocence and in God’s mercy and grace. It is, and will continue to be, my constant hope and prayer that this year will bring you respite and the relief of truths established, justice served and rightful vindication.

big ben 321
So, this New Year’s Eve, as I listen to the iconic chimes of Big Ben and I once again say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new in the company of my loved ones, I will be thinking of, and offering up my prayers, for you.

And we, your global family, will metaphorically cross arms and link our hands, to form a circle of love and global support around you as we share a ‘cup of kindness’ across the continents. We will raise up our thoughts, our hopes and our prayers. We will trust, that like the fireworks that herald in the New Year, lighting up the London sky and filling the darkness with colour and light, the sincerity of our love and friendship will similarly light up and colour your world and imprint a beautiful and lasting reflection across your heart. And throughout this coming year, as with the last, we will continue to stand by your side and offer you our friendship, our support and our unconditional love as you take another precious step closer to a new future; a future defined by justice, reconciliation, healing and peace of mind.

Big Ben with fireworks
Oscar, I wish you and your family and blessed and peaceful 2014.

With love  cup of kindness  Heather x

I wish you A Happi-er New Year

Dear Oscar,

For many people New Year’s Eve is one of the occasions in a year, like for instance the eve of their birthday or an anniversary, when they, for a short moment, in a way put a halt to time to reflect on what has been in the past, especially the past year, and to contemplate what the future, especially the coming year, might offer them. Some people look back with great satisfaction and look forward with equally great expectations, whereas others would rather forget all about the previous twelve months and dread what the next will bring them. The year that is nearly over is like an almost finished book, what remains are a few more lines, then the words ‘The End’ added and it will be closed, stored in an archive. The New Year is like a blank diary or a blank sheet of paper on which anything can be written. In a way it is a new beginning.

On this day people give themselves and others all kinds of promises of what they will do in the New Year, many of which usually do not survive very long. And people also wish one another the best for the New Year. There is definitely an atmosphere of something new and promising on this day, although strictly speaking there is no difference between this day and all the other days of the year. The choice of this specific date is manmade, any other day would do just as well, and in other cultures and at other times people have actually chosen other dates to celebrate New Year. So is all we do for New Year meaningless, the reflection, the well-wishing, the promises? I do not think so, because this occasion only reminds us of the fact that there always is the possibility for a change, for a new beginning, not only at the beginning of a year but every single day. This possibility for a new beginning is not quite like the blank sheet of paper I mentioned earlier because, of course, we carry with us our past. However much we sometimes would like to begin all over again, to begin from scratch, in the real world there is no such thing as the time turner in Harry Potter’s magical world which can take us back to a chosen point of time enabling us to change the events of the past. We have to live with our past, with what we have done, with our choices. However, there is always the possibility to start a new life, to give our lives a new direction. This new beginning does not need to be something spectacular like for instance emigrating to a new, unknown continent to start a completely different life like generations of people have done and still do. The change in one’s life does not even have to be visible and recognisable for others like the change in Charles Dickens’ Scrooge in the Christmas Carol. The new beginning can be a changed attitude to life that only the person himself is aware of, and it can still make all the difference for this person, and this is even possible in the seemingly most hopeless circumstances. Such a new beginning can be anything but easy, but it is important to remember this: it is never too late, and it is our choice to make this new beginning. We do not know what the future will bring us, and I do not think that this is a bad thing, because, if we did, there would be the risk that we forget to live our lives now either scared of the bad things lying ahead or neglecting what is good today in anticipation of even better things to come. The chapters of our future lives are not yet written, it is our choices today that determine our future, we can actually make a difference. What we cannot know are all the consequences of what we do, we can only try to do our best and hope and trust that we will be granted forgiveness when we fail. As Christians we believe that our lives are in the hands of the benevolent and faithful God, and not exposed to some wilful gods like those in Antiquity or some kind of merciless fate, which gives us comfort and the freedom to make our choices and to start a new life whenever we want.


A year ago when you looked back to the previous twelve months you referred to them as the best year of you career and expressed great expectations for the coming year and the determination to make it, if possible, even better. Things turned out to be very, very different, nothing was like what you had hoped for, everything turned upside down; we can hardly imagine what you have gone through, and what lies ahead of you is anything but certain. In this situation we can only express our heartfelt wishes for the New Year, that it will be much better than the previous one, that your hopes will come true, that you will be given the chance for a new beginning, a new chapter in your life and that you will be able to take this chance. I hope that in one year’s time you will look back to a better year, probably not entirely good and most likely not the best, but better, and with hopes and expectations for the future.

I wish you A Happi-er New Year


Stockholm, New Year’s Eve 2013

Turn your face towards the sun

Dear Oscar

“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”

– Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

 Stay strong, be positive.

We’re all behind you, this silent little army you cannot see but who is with you in spirit, from the beginning to the end. You may not physically see us, may not hear our voices, but by goodness you must sense us. Our faith in, and support of you, bounces around like underwater echoes, sending you our messages from across all the oceans. So even if you can’t find us on Google maps, trust that we are here, that here we will stay, for as long as it takes, and then forever after. We believe in you completely and pray that our little ‘whale songs’ in some small way help to keep you afloat.

Love Carly.


Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (Silent Night, Holy Night)


On these special days, I would like to tell you about the history of one of the most famous Christmas songs, which is not only an essential part of Austrian culture but was also declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in March 2011.

STILLE NACHT, HEILIGE NACHT (Silent Night, Holy Night) was composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria.


The song was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village on the Salzach River. The young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. He had already written the lyrics of the song “Stille Nacht” in 1816 at Mariapfarr, the hometown of his father in the Salzburg Lungau region, where Joseph had worked as a coadjutor.

The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the church service. Both performed the carol during the mass on the night of December 24.

In 1859, the Episcopalian bishop John Freeman Young published the English translation that is most frequently sung today.

The carol has been translated into about 140 languages.

The song was sung simultaneously in French, English and German by troops during the Christmas truce of 1914 during World War I, as it was one carol that soldiers on both sides of the front line knew.

I would like to dedicate a very international performance of this song to you dear support team, which also reminds me that peace and unity on Earth are the most precious things we could pray for.

Diana Ross, Plácido Domingo & José Carreras – Stille Nacht (Live) From Christmas In Vienna, Austria

From the deep of my heart I would like to wish all of you Merry Christmas and blessed  days with your families an the ones you love.

Lots of Love