There’s a risk in writing about death that this editorial might turn out to be a bit of a downer, but I’m going to anyway as I’m writing this two days after my Grandma’s funeral.
It was sort of expected, and she lived for 90 enthusiastic years, but that doesn’t change the loss and shock and miserable finality of it all.
Everybody says that facing death close up has a way of bringing life’s priorities into sharper perspective. Grandma was one of life’s great hoarders – she loved to shop and never threw anything away.
What struck me in her final weeks was how little her precious bits and pieces mattered to her. Gradually, she forgot about it all – her flat, her piano, her jewellery, her boxes and boxes of photographs. None of it could do anything for her anymore.
What counted was us – being there, holding her hand and talking to her. When she couldn’t even respond to us anymore, what mattered was God.
It’s one of the biggest lies we’ve been sold – that our stuff matters when we’re here any more than it does when we die. That’s why I’m so glad Andy Hickford has tackled the subject of consumerism for our cover feature (p40). It’s something I personally struggle with – I still catch myself deep down believing that fulfilment lies in what I own, and what I will own. Hopefully his piece, concluded next month, will be the start of a journey out of that trap.
If you’ve been a reader for a while, you won’t fail to notice that it all looks a bit different. Redesigns are one of the most fun but also the most nerve wracking things you do as an editor, but I’m thrilled with the result and I hope you are too.
Much like Natalie Portman at the Oscars, there’s a long list of people to thank. Top of the list is the redesign’s chief architect, our new art director James Garnham, who has been ably and painstakingly assisted by designer Ian Barnard. I have felt a bit like a traffic warden this month – my job has basically been to guide an exceptionally talented team – whether it’s pretend I know what James and Ian are on about when they discuss colour balance and baseline grids, or just watch in admiration as Heather Tomlinson makes her fifteenth phone call of the morning in search of a news story.
I’m really, really proud of them and what we’ve put together. We’ve been praying for ourselves, and for you, that God will help us produce a magazine that actually makes a difference to your faith. So keep letting us know how we’re getting on, but be gentle, we’ve had a long month.