The pause between Christmas day and the beginning of a new year has in recent years been fraught, for me, with a gnawing, hungry hope. An eagerness to cast off the old, which honestly hasn't been all that endearing these past years, and leap into newness. Or, at the very least, the glimmer of hope of newness. And what has happened these past years, too, is four or five months into this supposed newness, a weight of grief falls heavy on my heart. Things aren't all that different, it mocks. In fact, they're not different at all - and they probably never will be.
Does anyone else burn with exhaustion in their souls at the damned near impossible task of warding off cynicism and discouragement, while simultaneously seeking to honor the grief of losses splayed like a pile of bones one upon the other, while at the same time keeping a space vacant, no matter how small it is, to house the mystery of hope, the unexpected beauty strewn across our paths that day or so imperceptibly growing with time we nearly miss it?
I know that exhaustion well. Maybe you do, too. It is not so simple a gesture, I think, to embrace hope, for in expanding space to hope and love and light, we also expand our capacities for disappointment and heartbreak, for doubt and anger and darkness. We cannot grow one direction without growing in the other.
I'm not talking here about the biblical "hope that doesn't disappoint," but a hope more earthy and common to us humans. The hope of "maybe tomorrow will be better" or "maybe life will let up for awhile and I can breathe again" or "maybe that dream will begin to be fulfilled" or "maybe this (whatever this is) what won't be in vain."
We all have these kinds of hopes, don't we?
It doesn't have to mean we're not doing our best to live fully into this present moment, only that we're willing to consider there may be more light beyond this moment, and depending on what kind of moment we're in, it may be just what we need to get through to the next.
This, friends, is where I've found myself, like I said, at the advent of a new year for some years now.
But this year, it's different. I'm less eager, I suppose, to throw myself at the mercy of "high hopes" for newness. And it's more than that, too. It's a gentler hope, like the slow burn of an ember, flickering and holding steady through the night. I find myself leaning back on hope instead of pressing forward into it, and this subtle difference in posture changes the tone entirely. I'm resting, being carried along by a current, not bracing myself for rapids ahead or floating in my own little world like rapids don't exist.
This is where I am. I guess you might call it peace, though it isn't without its struggle, its tension.
It's an irony, no? That peace and tension can coexist? It seems all they need is respectful awareness of each other.
* * * * *
I still don't have a word. But I can tell you where I see myself in imagery, stepping across the threshold of next year:
Nestled, for now, inside a cocoon. Craving wide open spaces at the rougher edges of faith and God, where wildness and mystery dwell, outside of neat containment.
Yes, I'm here. Swaddled in this cocoon of the unknown, not only resting, but transfiguring. A caterpillar might know, instictually, that she'll one day emerge as a butterfly or a moth. But perhaps not. Perhaps she is swaddled tight, too, through the cycle of transformation, not knowing when or how or what she'll be when she emerges. Knowing she cannot ultimately control these things. So she gives herself over to it, to the process of change, to the grace of this great Weaver of beauty, and lets go.
So much of me, of my life and faith and marriage and writing, are bound up in this cocoon, that it's a sense of relief, really, to recognize this is where I am. I can stop running desperate to hope or resisting it and work, instead, with the natural rhythms of metamorphosis.
What this may mean for my writing is that I will tuck words away for awhile, letting them take shape in more private spaces. I'm not so hungry to share all my words here, but to keep some in the sacred dark for however long they need.
I cannot say what this all will look like or what I will look like, for that is part of the journey through the unknown I'm learning to walk - to cocoon in - but I do know this:
And somehow, that is enough for me, for this day, for this year.
Linking up at Beth's for the last Unforced Rhythms of 2014.