A post on New Year's Eve
The page turned from 2016 to 2017, and from where I stood, it appeared like an unleashing of physical and spiritual elements. The wisdom writer of scripture tells us, has continued to tell us at each reading, that there is nothing new under the sun. In that sense, the swirling, fractious chaos of 2017 is not a new phenomenon. However, in my experience, in my lifetime, the past year and leading up to it was as tangible and disruptive as anything I’ve seen or known, nationally and within my own self.
I discovered during this past year's disruptive motif what has been dusted over, held at bay, maybe even denied out right. Perhaps it is about time. By God’s good grace, an ache has been set in me, a gnawing that prohibits me from any kind of numbing out or being quiet for the wrong reasons. In a fresh way, I learned I am accountable for what I know, that I'm called to live in a manner that ushers in freedom and wholeness for all of God's beloved ones.
2017 taught me how to see, how to hear, how to sit with discomfort and not rush to get over it or past it. Through listening, through saying I’m sorry, through acknowledging what is, I’ve learned how to be awake to the world, to Christ in me, to Christ in others.
2017 brought me back to counseling. I found a seasoned woman, a no-nonsense prophetic soul who sat with me and undid in the best way a previous counselor's work.
The year marked a shift in my thinking, what I believe St. Paul would call a renewed mind. I observed myself being at ease in situations where my normal would have been panic, pits sweating, voice shaking, retreat; after the retreat, severe personal cross-examination and ensuing shame. I noticed, in my mind and body and spirit, those motions not happening so much, and sometimes not at all.
As the year moved into the fall, angry words welled up in me and begged to be expressed. I began a practice of saying all of them in safe spaces. I said them without apology and without qualification, without dressing them up or Jesus-ing them into shape. When they were all out, spread over the ground in front of me, they could teach me what I needed to learn before they seeped into the soil to die. Somehow, without the proper steps of 1-2-3, God moved in my willingness to trust that the Christ who is God-with-us was indeed with me in the center of the mess, the cursing, the lament.
In 2017, I said "I don't know" a lot. I uttered "Lord, have mercy" more than any other prayer. I practiced asking forgiveness quickly. I decided it isn't that important if I say something out of the regular boxes, because I'm not that big of a deal. What a relief.
2017 gave me thousands of miles to travel. 30 books read. Hundreds of podcasts consumed. Words to write, to speak. Lessons learned and taught. Fears to face. Anxieties to name. Tears. Recognition. Healing. Friendships. Photographs. Coffee and dark chocolate. Wonder Woman. Music. A completed ratty first draft of a book. Paychecks. Opportunities to work. Conversations at the Scuffy Table. Shame to release. Steps of reconciliation. Prayers to pray. Hands to hold. Hugs to give and to receive. My whole self to embrace. Integration. Tensions to hold. A green wilderness to inhabit.
The calendar flips to 2018 in just a few hours. My gaze is fixed toward it with a realistic hope, a reasonable confidence. Not naive or blind optimism, but an active hope that invites me to participate in the redemption. It's a persistent hope that instructs me in movements that bend injustices toward justice and false things toward truth. It's a whisper, a quiet expectation that asks me to see the Image of God in people, to watch others see the same in me.