The departure of 2017 has left behind a welcome calm. As I navigate the first weeks of the new year, I have spent quite a few hours tucked under my fuzzy blue blanket in my worn overstuffed chair. Usually, the week between the holidays is mine to reflect, evaluate, and plan. This year, those days were given over to people I adore, as we flew across the country to spend precious time with my Oregon family. So, I’ve redeemed slow Saturdays, a snowstorm, and quiet mornings catching up with my soul after a year of turmoil and transition.
Last winter, I realized that our family could not support a freelancer as we had planned, and I was filling out job applications with hope and trepidation. We opened our home to a second child and her family. We built out space, in hope that family unity might outlive our forced confinement. It was a season of challenge for so many under one roof. The darkness seemed to overwhelm us as we struggled through individually and together. The bright spot in our days was the bundle of joy we watched growing and developing in fast forward. Teddy filled our days with laughter and our love for him brought joy even as the cold winter winds blew just outside the door. Just as we had given up hope that spring might ever return, the cold receded and hope gave life to possibilities.
Spring brought new options and opportunities. A new job or several. A long-awaited graduation. New confidence. We began to move forward again. As the trees brought forth tender green shoots, we began to take steps down new roads. I learned a new commute and filled it with the words of audiobooks. We celebrated a long-awaited graduation with much delight. Spring’s renewal was uneven and it felt like one step forward to two steps back. We began to recover from a long hibernation and waited for the promise of new things. As much as we longed for new things, these beginnings challenged us and depleted us. Change is hard even when it is good.
Our summer filled us up again. We played hard. We slowed down and savored the moments. Like ice cream dripping down my hands, summer stuck to my soul and reminded me again of the wonders of my life and loves. We tucked in plenty of moments of laughter, long contented sighs, and exploration into our weekends and long twilight evenings. As I adjusted to a new environment, again for the third time in a year, I found the slower pace frustrating at times, but determined to learn this new dance. We said goodbye to a weekly group of friends, no longer able to make a regular commitment to meeting and felt the emptiness of their space in our lives. We asked difficult questions about the future and sat together and apart to ponder unclear answers. We prayed, we waited…in many areas, we are still waiting for clarity. We stumbled over a new tempo, slower more pondering and less frantic in our days.
New England’s autumn wonder celebrated with us as we worked to create a magical day for our two to become one. We witnessed the joining of lives and families and the promise of great love. The work of shaping and bringing that day to life was such a privilege. We danced and laughed and gathered memories like too many apples in a bulging basket. Interwoven into the joy was the dark thread of a new diagnosis and new traumas. As a family, we stood together again as we experienced some long scary days. We traveled, we texted, we called, and we walked out this moment in our family in the most honest ways. Gratefully, we are still walking this one out.
This year not only brought change, it wrought change in my heart. I am walking into 2018 different than I wandered in. I feel pulled and deeply tied to my Oregon family as we walk together through both the daily-ness of our lives and the major twists and turns. These relationships have doubled down over the past year. My family has grown, it’s actually doubled in size in just about 18 months. I’m still reeling from the pace of change. As we gathered together on Christmas morning, I was struck that although so much of this is brand new, it still feels like we’ve been doing it forever. Keith and I have committed to making intentional time for just us. Ushering so many humans into our home, have left us feeling the loss of privacy and the ease of intimacy earned in the quiet aftermath of raising a family. We will continue to make time for each other and the ones we love.
So many good things I’ve held for decades have been laid down in the past few seasons. Teaching, gathering, meaningful communal work together seem, for now, to only have a place in my past. In this season, I am heading back to the simple disciplines of faith and communion that have sustained me for so many years. I find myself in a place of transition spiritually. This season has challenged me to dig into the bedrock of my faith and look for the non-negotiable truths I will rely on to sustain me. I have also found that some traditions and ways of being no longer fit with my growing faith. I am seeking and searching, and I am confident that the One who holds my world continues to direct my path… even when I can’t see beyond my own hand.
As the year ends, I realize that time is moving so quickly at this point in my life. Prioritizing the things that matter most is no longer an option but an all-consuming focus. I am currently reviewing my life, determined to make more room for the things that fill my cup and identifying busyness that can be trimmed away. I am determined to curate the calm we need to enjoy the simple things life affords and to make more time for meaningful connections.