Tuesday, December 24, 2013

OneWord 2013

At the beginning of the year, I wrote an awkward post about how the word "weave" was going to be my word for 2013. I had a vague idea of how it was going to go: I would figure out how to put myself back together and I would write about it. I wasn't so naive to think I completely knew what I was doing, but I figured that was okay because I would work it out as I went.

I was wrong.

I managed to write about my word several times, but I did not figure out how to put myself back together. I have not figured out much of anything.  All I did was begin the year with a certain thought in mind and take a few steps I thought might support it. From the outside looking in, my life probably seems the same now as it was in January.

And yet, I feel as though nothing is the same at all.

I cannot possibly view the world, other people, or even myself. the way I did a year ago.  I've started grasping the hem of writings on incarnation and intersectionality and prayer and true self and peace and so much wisdom from those whose life experience is vastly different from mine, and yet still connected to mine through shared faith. At this point, I can offer you neither proof nor a coherent explanation of how this wisdom is weaving together in my life.  All I can offer is that my spirit feels different - both restless and at rest, both filled with doubts and grounded in truths, both tangled in questions and buoyed by hope.

I've found a home in the Episcopal Church. I've discovered that I better engage with the mystery of Christ through the seasons of the liturgy and I've found people with whom I feel an inexplicable kinship.  In many ways I feel like a refugee seeking solace in that tradition, yet I also feel like a person born in exile, who has finally been welcomed home.

I know I should be attempting to summarize my OneWord experience, but I simply cannot.  I feel this year has been a gift in ways I completely do not understand, but I hesitate to name it thus because I'm still trying to figure out how it has come about. I longed for these changes, but I did not know they were what I was longing for, nor did I cause them to happen. The weaving, the peace, the hope - it has happened and is happening as I read the words of monks and prophets and saints, and as I discover new insights that I am only beginning to comprehend.  I am at once thankful and in awe and humbled and borderline incredulous.

In one of my earlier posts about my OneWord, I wrote:
There was a time when.... I tried to believe that God was up there directing every detail of my life – from the grade I got on a test to finding a pair of shoes in my size on sale.  But I just don’t believe that now.  I do believe we are created in God’s image and I do believe that God is there, but I also think many things just happen. 
I still don't believe that God is directing every single detail of my life like some kind of cosmic puppeteer, but I can't deny that there seems to be no logical explanation for how how certain things have come together this year. I have to admit that in the past twelve months I've seen glimpses of what, despite all my doubts, I can only attribute to the Divine.

Considering my life as a weaving-together instead of an unraveling has made me more open to the ordering of what had previously been a tangled, unraveled mess.  It has caused me to look for connections where I never would have before. I know I'm not done. I can't wrap up this word and put it on a shelf on December 31st as though it were a completed project and all the pieces of my life are now woven into a finished product.

The weaving will continue at its own pace and in its own time. I have no idea how different or similar my life will look next year at this time, but right now, in this moment, I'm so very thankful for whatever or whomever promoted me choose the word weave.

It's been quite a year.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

An Advent Reflection: Hope

O come, O Come Thou Day-spring bright
Pour on our souls Thy healing light
Dispel the long night's lingering gloom
And pierce the shadows of the tomb
 - From 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel,' origin unknown

Every year I dread when the days turn cold. The weight of darkness seems to increase as the daylight hours decrease. The chill and the gloom close in all around, and even inhaling deeply or lifting my eyes to look for beauty seems difficult.

Everything feels too heavy. Everything feels too cold. Everything feels too dark.

Yet in this, my first year observing Advent, there is a barely perceptible shift. I can sense moments of peace when I call to mind that I am intentionally observing this low time—that I've embraced this waiting in the dark, this participation in an age-old and sacred longing.

I am merely one of multitudes who have defied the gloom and shadows with hopeful expectation.

Being present to this yearning does not make me continually cheerful or warm or bright, but it does increase my awareness of the presence of Hope. I know Hope is pressing in close, right along with the heaviness and the chill and the darkness.

This Hope calls to mind the love and compassion of God. This Hope whispers reassurance that the darkness will not consume.

Hope waits with us, unfailing, as we anticipate the moment when Divine Light pierces the darkness and heals our souls with Love.

Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3: 21-26