Two years ago I started this blog on New Years day and wrote, “Like a snake shedding its skin, the end of the year always presents a unique opportunity to let the old fall away. For this reason, I find New Years’ Eve one of the most spiritual days of the year, as we sit pregnant with new possibilities. And like a tentative mother waiting to give birth, I use the day before New Years’ as one of rest and contemplation, avoiding revelries and alcohol, if at all possible. Instead I prefer to be alone or at least in a quiet setting so that I can better hear what God intends for me.”
Hmm. Maybe I need to read my own words more often.
Having been possessed by some sort of demon all week, I have hardly been feeling hopeful or “pregnant with possibilities.” Thankfully, the demon was exorcised at some point in my sleep last night, so I’m a little more open to God at the moment and to hearing from Him.
As my mind becomes more receptive, I reflect on why we human beings are so quick to shut out possibility (and God for that matter). In an effort to protect ourselves from the unknown, we’d rather predict misery and disaster, than live in the ambiguous zone of not knowing if we’ll succeed or fail, find love or lose it, be happy or unhappy. It’s easier to shut down than to see any sense of possibility.
I think when we don’t know what is up and what is down, our faith is most deeply challenged. It’s also when we have the most possibility for wonder, if we could only grasp that.
I’ve done therapy groups with people so hurt and wounded that when asking them to hold an imaginary penny and make a wish, they can’t because it’s too painful to think of all the wishes in their lives that haven’t come true. And yet, I’m no different. There are times when I too can’t make a wish or the wish I would most want to make, (if I wasn’t so afraid of the potential pain and disappointment).
This fear permeates all aspects of our thinking, language and behaviors. Why the other day, I found myself muttering, “I can’t wait for 2010 to be done with!” But I had to stop and pause for a second. “Wait a minute. 2010 was awesome.” This led me to rephrase my sentence. “I can’t wait for this week to be over and for 2011 to start!” Let’s look at things a little more accurately, Lise. 2010 was wonderful and who is to say 2011 won’t be more so?
So for whoever reads this blog, my wish for the New Year is that we are all open to faith. That we see possibilities in situations where we have no vision. And that we remember rainbows come after storms. And for all those of us feeling metaphorically barren, may we sing and remember Isaiah 54:1-5:
“Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,”
says the LORD.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nations
and settle in their desolate cities.
“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband—
the LORD Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.