For all those watching the old year go out and heralding the new; some words for you.
New Years’ Eve last, I sat with Celtic liturgy and watched snow drift over Chicago. Tonight snow falls in Canada; tonight will be a family night. Between the two nights have been five beautiful months of sunshine, searching truth, finding and deepening friendship and laughter in Kasana, Uganda; a week of Germany in June; two quirky months of construction work and chumming with a dear brother and demai in British Columbia; driving for days across Canada; a month or two of bean-picking in sunny Ontario; two weeks of gypsying in Germany and England; and finishing up the year in Ontario working a full-time office job.
It’s been a full-to-bursting year, and yet at the end of it I feel like a kid who just lost Jenga. Most of the friends of this year, some of my family members, plans for the future, geographical locations, jobs, seasons – all these have been pulled out one by one as the year progressed, and it can feel like life has fallen into pieces. It’s time to begin again. Sometimes I can wonder how much courage I have to begin again, build again, search out the blocks, find the new faces, recognize in a new way the beauty of Ontario, make a home here.
How does one year swing from empty, to full, to empty, so fast?
How can life make both heaven and hell into realities, all on this one planet, all wrapped into one life? I honestly don’t know. I look back and see so much joy in this year. So much more freedom spiritually, emotionally, even physically, than I have ever known before. I look back and see so many moments of standing in awe at beauty in Creation, in art, in the lives of others. And I see the angst and the complaining and my heart of unbelief, too.
It’s a curious life, friends.
And now that the year is about to burst and be re-birthed in a new gift of 365 unpredictable days, here are words that have walked me through transitions this past year, and that walk me into a new:
First, C.S. Lewis’ statement, “There are far better things ahead than any we can leave behind.” Ponder that, friend? Just soak it in. In Christ, this is always, always true. There’s courage for a smile here, always.
Second, Oswald Chambers, “Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ. Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”
Third, from George MacDonald, a prayer of grief. Take this one as a tea-bag gift, to drop in your cup of life. It’ll steep you into a new colour. Walk slowly here, friend. Come back often. This prayer has felt like a friend to me this year, with a face ever more familiar. Looking backwards brings twin monsters of guilt and regret; throw yourself on Christ. He takes the sting out of all. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who claim only grace as their covering.
Do not hurry
as you walk with grief;
it does not help the journey.
Walk slowly, pausing often:
do not hurry
as you walk with grief.
Be not disturbed
by memories that come unbidden.
and let Christ speak for you
will be resolved in Him.
Be not disturbed.
Be gentle with the one
who walks with grief.
If it is you,
be gentle with yourself.
Take time, be gentle
as you walk with grief.
Fourthly, a Celtic tradition of prayer for the new year:
“I am no longer my own, but Yours. Use me as You choose; rank me alongside whoever You choose; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for You, or laid aside for You, raised up for You, or brought down low for You’ let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; with my whole heart I freely choose to yield all things to Your ordering and approval. So now, God of glory, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, You are mine, and I am Your own.”
Entering this new year knowing that He is mine, and I am His own? Is the very best way.
Fifthly, and lastly, is one word, one prayer, the exhale of this groaning world as the days grow dark: Maranatha. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.