Monday, December 14, 2015

Embracing 2015

When sitting quietly outside is a prayer I didn't realize I was praying. I took the photo above about almost exactly a year ago. On a feeling, I had come down to Oxford, rode my bike and walked around town on a cold day, feeling like a tourist in the town I grew up in. I was between jobs, separated, at peace, happy, hopeful. If you want the exact experience, you can reminisce here.

I was poised, ready, open, for something, but didn't know what. I fu**ing hate cliches, but in my mind this weekend, thinking about all this, "what a difference a year makes," is the phrase that kept dancing through my head.

Saturday morning, I went for a run around Oxford, covering much of the same ground I did on my bike-walk combo a year ago (it's a small town, there aren't that many places to go :) A bit later, I rode my bike back to the same stretch on the Strand to read, watch the water, and reflect. I stopped by work on my way home to help set up for a memorial service. I had quick greetings with four or five people by name in a town I again call home, the town where I also work.

2015 has been a year of living. Really living, in a way I lost touch with. It's been a year of re-connecting to a place and to a community. It's been a year of finding a job that resonates with my soul. It's been a year where a health scare for my 10-year-old daughter affirmed what is important in life. It's been a year of knowing, experiencing love in ways I didn't know existed. It's been a year of not only looking at life and the world more deeply, but of living it that way.

2015 is no Pollyanna year. Life hurts, knocks me down, asks more questions than it could possibly answer. I seem to know less as a parent each year (just ask the 13 year old). There are plenty of times I have no clue if I've gotten something right. But it's not for lack of living, or lack of trying, or lack of learning. It's been a year of feeling like I am where I am supposed to be. And paying attention.

Last year, I was making the move from residing to living. To embracing. That has happened. For this year's annual check-in, I want to throw out some words from Mary Oliver, a writer who seems to surface at interesting, if unexpected times:

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full or argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sunrise Theater

The sun hasn't made the horizon yet. Fog crawls along the ground, afraid of heights this morning. Geese call each other, or the sun, their conversation is unclear to me.

I got restless with the warmth and quiet inside on the couch this morning. As much as I dig the lights on the Christmas tree, and the sound of the ice skaters on the dining room table snow village pond, I needed to be outside. I pulled on boots, threw on a jacket, grabbed coffee, binoculars, Mary Oliver, and a notebook.

There is nothing out of the ordinary about it all. The fog is a novelty. The Mallards are drawn north, swimming in a manner of mass exodus. It's not a morning for revelation, except that this is every morning. It's routine Eastern Shore.

God is not in the details, God is the details. And maybe that's the revelation, if there is one. Each blade of grass; every feather on every duck and goose; every color on the pink-orange spectrum; the stillness of the water on the cove--it's all so much more than I can possibly take in. And yet, it's all here, every morning. Waiting for me, or anyone else, to notice. Or not. Maybe sunrise theater likes an audience. But it performs, regardless.

And with that, I put the cap on the pen and returned my notebook to the backpack. It was a good lesson or thought for the day. I picked up my coffee and watched as the sun rose above the trees. And then this happened...

Looking at the screen on my phone, trying to get a good sunrise picture, diagonal beams shot in both directions off the sun and were immediately mirrored off the cove. I literally laughed. It was like a conversation, a shared joke or laugh with Creation, "Oh, you think that's the message for this morning? You think you've got things figured out? Take a look at this. You're welcome. Now rethink things."