Man, I didn’t write much this year. And I can feel the effects of that, for sure.
Ever since childhood, I’ve turned to pen and paper for organizing, processing, and expressing my thoughts and feelings. Each day of every year brings many words, and I do better when I pay attention to them; helping them to find their place so I can find mine. Next year, I vow to pay closer attention…
But I hold on loosely, asking God to make me just as content to receive words as I am to offer them.
Though it’s meager, here is my 2017 offering -or its highlights, anyway:
1. A Strong Start
January is a hard month. There are new routines and rules. Special diets and detoxes. Lofty plans and new purpose.
There is this new version of yourself, but you’re not quite sure you like her. There is small progress, but nothing measurable. You know things will get easier, but not before they get much harder.
I’ll say it again: January is a hard month.
I know all too well. Too many of my years have had hard beginnings. Not any more.
Now, I’m at a softer stage of life. I find myself searching high and low for shoes with the softest soles. I can wait for books to come out in their soft covers, and am willing to pay extra for softer, gentler soap.
2. The Lunatic Fringe
Chronic doesn’t blow anyone away, it starves you out, leaving you isolated and anemic.
Killing you softly. Casting you out. Making you desperate, irrational, and even willing to try something crazy ….
If only I could just touch his garment, I know I would be healed…
Twelve years. After twelve years of chronic bleeding, she had to be tired. Tired of stares and whispers and unanswered prayers. Tired of their same questions:
Is that still going on? What did the doctor say? Haven’t you tried…?
I’m sure she could see the skepticism in their eyes. She had to notice them shortening the conversations. I bet she could feel them pulling away…
3. Ordinary Time
Week four of a New Year’s resolution is not for sissies. Week four is when you notice your biggest supporters, Motivation, Novelty, and Determination, have all packed up camp and headed to wherever they hide. I’m guessing they ran way ahead of me to the final days of December. Or rushed on to Lent. Or are waiting for me in the countdown to swim season. Bye, Felicia.
These are the days when our chronic, nagging problems hang in the air of our living rooms where the holly used to be. It’s when dreary chores and doctor’s appointments fill the squares of our calendar instead of parties and breaks. It’s when, in your Bible reading plan, you hit the book of Numbers.
4. The Same 88 Keys
My piano teacher ended every lesson the same way. After thirty minutes of my plunking on her Steinway, she would scoot me off the bench to watch her play some impressive, advanced piece. At the end of the last note, she’d look up at me, gesture to the keyboard, and say, “Now remember, you have these same 88 keys on your piano at home.”
She was trying to encourage me, but sometimes, especially after a rough lesson, it felt like an accusation: You have everything you need… so why aren’t you playing better? What’s wrong with you?
After four years of lessons, it was evident that I lacked many things, but mostly I needed a deeper desire and a different DNA. No matter how hard we tried, those 88 keys just weren’t enough.
5. Unbroken Bones
Every year, as Easter draws near, I think about Will*, a student in my Sunday school group a few years back. One morning during Lent, we were revisiting Jesus’ arrest, suffering, and death.
The kids, especially the boys, were curious about the details of crucifixion: How did they get the nails in? Since Jesus is God, did he feel it? Did he scream/fight back? Was blood pouring down the hill?
I guess I’m used to their weird curiosities and obsessions, so I marched through their questions like a pro, without flinching, until this one came from Will’s half-shouting voice:
Thanks for sticking with me as I write (and live) off and on. Happy New Year!
Other photo credits given on separate post pages.