AT Dunham Road Unitarian Chapel on New Year’s Eve, a Watchnight service was held.

It was composed of a few readings and prayers, but we were also invited to take part in a simple ritual.

Everyone had been handed a small piece of paper and a pen on entering the chapel and at one point in the service we were asked to write down on the paper some things we would like to leave behind as we entered the New Year.

They could be anything — negative aspects of our personality, bad feelings we have experienced, things that weigh us down in our lives.

For me, some of the things I wanted to leave behind were my feelings of intolerance, and to try to be kinder to people.

As a Unitarian, I know I should be tolerant — it is one of the three pillars of our movement, but I find myself getting very irritated sometimes (a real grumpy old woman, in fact) and it is something I would like to leave behind in 2018. After a few minutes, the minister came around with a bowl into which we placed our folded papers and when the service was over, this bowl was taken outside and the contents burned while we all stood around in the darkness, watching the papers go up in flames.

It is a deeply symbolic ritual and helps us enter the New Year with a heart purged of those thoughts and feelings that maybe caused us — and others — stress and pain.

Certainly getting annoyed with people cannot be good for others or for me.

There will be a lot of challenges in the coming year, personal, national and universal and it is good to begin with feelings of positivity.

The important thing is to try to hold those positive ideas in our hearts for the whole year and to be determined to keep looking forward in all that we do and think. Let us hope that we can.

Carolyn Jones

Hon Secretary

Altrincham Interfaith Group and member of Dunham Road Unitarian Chapel