The 31st of December can feel like slack water – a precariously short period of time when things are still before the ebb and flow of the rhythm of our everyday existence. Whilst “the stand of the tide” is free of stress, New Years is unlikely to be. That said, it does provide a natural time to reflect, to look back before turning our gaze forwards to the hopes and fears associated with 2016.
A year ago, I was musing that 2014 had seen many of those of us who were regularly meeting together relocating elsewhere. From a period of being gathered we became scattered.
2015 has been a year where I have spent much less time on the blog. But as I stared at the sea this morning, my mind was running over a surge of things that have happened this year.
Five years after I was first invited to join Christian Surfers UK (CSUK) at their annual leadership conference in Croyde, North Devon, 2015 saw Michael join me as a second CS Scotland rep. We had a wonderful weekend hanging out with some of the most genuine people I have ever had the good fortune of carving out time with. Each year the return pilgrimage provides a weekend that I feed off for the whole year. There is time to plan the year ahead and it is amazing to see how hugely respected and valued CSUK is throughout much of the UK Surf scene. We are involved in almost every notable surf event that happens, often working behind the scenes and helping to ensure that events run smoothly. Our reputation has been built on transparency, servanthood and only talking about our faith if invited to. Hopefully that is becoming increasingly clear to those in the Scottish surf scene too and any suspicion about us is being replaced with favour.
Another organisation we have sought to champion these past few years has been The Wave Project. They use surfing as a way of helping excluded young people grow in self confidence. This year we were able to gain access to the amazing building associated with my own church community, Central. They let us use a meeting room to help the Wave Project run an orientation training event for new volunteers. Shortly thereafter, we hired out the main auditorium with its huge screen and sound system to show “Beyond Sight”, a unique film about a blind Brazilian surfer called Derek Rabello. The story that unfolds reads like a who’s who of mainstream surfing with the likes of Damien Hobgood, Laird Hamilton, Rob Machado and Kelly Slater amongst others playing way more than cameo roles. The film was really well received and the event drew over 80 surfers along and helped us raise £492 with 100% of proceeds going to the Wave Project. You can watch a trailer for the film below.
The late spring saw us road-tripping the length of the country to see fellow surfers, Switchfoot play live in Sussex and Edinburgh. We got a little chance to talk surfing in Scotland and some of the things we get up to.
July usually sees a crew of us making the trip down to Cornwall for the CSUK annual gathering. Michael made the journey on behalf of the team this year and had an inspiring few days with folks from all over Europe. As a family we stayed put this year as we’d been invited to the wedding celebration of friends who run the local surf school. It was one of the most beautiful evenings of the exchanging of vows I have ever witnessed.
July also saw us relocate to Dunbar as a family after 20 years of living in Edinburgh. That was something borne out of a clear nudge at the end of our inaugural SUrf Camp (something Scripture Union asked us to explore developing and delivering) in 2014. Talking of which, SUrf Camp 2015 was a lot of fun. We had 50% more young people attending this year. C2C provided amazing surf instruction and the rest of the team helped us offer a wide range of activities each day. As I type these words, booking is just about to open for SUrfCamp 2016.
Upon arriving in Dunbar, we were stoked to see three other members CS Scotland all relocate here too over the summer. Another amazing family connected with CSUK are currently exploring a relocation from Cornwall to join us in 2016, so we’re excited about what might unfold between us all and some others who already live here. In the meantime, we’ve kept our monthly rhythm of Soul Sundays on the first Sunday of each month where we simply throw out an open invite for brunch at our house before hitting the beach. Hopefully those days just provide time and space to hang out and deepen friendships and to do life together.
September saw us run another surf movie night at Central. This time we opted for the iconic Endless Summer with 100% of the proceeds going to the Scottish Surfing Federation to help them get the Scotland Surfing Team to the EuroSurf 2015 contest in Morocco where they did us proud. Close to £400 was raised.
September also saw an invitation to help facilitate a talk at the third Q Commons Edinburgh event. The themes from the various speakers were anchored in: staying curious, thinking well and; advancing good. It was an honour to discuss “Changing Lives Through Surfing” with Jamie from the Wave Project.
October brings school holidays and the opportunity for some of us to make another trek to Cornwall for the Jesus Longboard competition. Sadly, this year the charts and forecasts went against us with a lack of contestanle waves resulting in the rescheduling of the comp. That said, a good few of the crew had already booked accommodation in and around Polzeath. We ended up having a great family holiday whilst also spending lots of time with the wider CSUK family.
October saw theUK Pro Tour weave its way up to Thurso. Once again, CSUK were invited to help with the organisation. Daren, Andy and Robin made their way up to serve hot food and drinks to competitors, judges and spectators alike. They had a great trip and, as always, it was a delight to offer a place to stay on their way there and back.
I say it all the time, but one of the things I love most about surfing is the people whom I meet through it. About five years ago we met a family from outside Glasgow who pitched up at one of our beach days. We’ve kept in touch over the years and it has been a privilege to watch their own journey. It was nothing short of an honour to learn that they had all recommitted themselves this year and to be invited along to hear each of their stories of the difference that really finding a faith of their own has made. What a beautiful thing to see an entire family decide to be baptised last month.
So, as this year ebbs away there is much to be grateful for. As 2016 arrives on the horizon, there is much to be excited about.
Happy New Year.