Monday, December 28, 2009
I am a big believer in seasons, change, starting new, contemplating things past, planning for what the future holds. Birthdays are especially thoughtful times for me, but the end of the year brings the most “deep thinking”. I take time to reflect on the year passed. Mainly I wonder if I have changed and did I bring about any change in others? I am hoping that the year just passed finds me farther along in my journey of purpose and being who and what I am meant to be.
It’s that “end” of things that gets me going. Outside plants have gone to sleep till spring, inside we try to complete all we can in our personal lives and in business before the end of the year. We must get things done before December is done and the year “ends”. Somehow, completing something by December 31st gives us a special feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. January 1st is more than a date on the calendar, it is the beginning of a 12 month span of time, 365 days that are yet to be. It is a measure that most of the world recognizes as significant and plans their lives around.
That’s one of the things I like about years...because we note their beginning and ending, it means each one can be different. Because something ends, it brings a chance that something new will begin. Last year I felt we were to leave much behind in 2008. This year I sense expansion. Each year can bring a shift, change, fresh start, new beginnings, leaving behind...all that. If God’s mercies are new every morning, I have 365 to look forward to!
I’m not a big resolution person, although I do like to write down my hopes for the new year. Years ago some girlfriends started a tradition of going to “Cracker Barrel” on January 1st and we would have breakfast and grill each other about what we wanted the new year to bring. I use the word grill, because we were not allowed to just state “lose 10 pounds,” “pray more,” “make a million dollars” and such. No, we had to have purpose, meaning and honesty behind our hopes and if you came to the table with the generic statements above, you were put in the hot seat and prodded for more. EVERYBODY wants those things...what we wanted to establish was what did YOU want, specific to your life, your loves, your interests, your purpose. HOW are you going to make a million dollars for example.
We would write these things down and some years we were pretty good at reminding each other of our goals. The next year we would bring them back to Cracker Barrel, check our progress and start all over again. Cracker Barrel became not just a place to eat, but a spiritual experience for us; it was not so much the place, the building and such, but what went on when we gathered there.
We started out with just 3 or 4 of us, and some years grew to 10 or more. Sometimes those new to “the group” were a little taken aback by our seriousness in prodding and not letting them get away with “I just want to do God’s will” line. If you did not want to share something real and heartfelt, you had no place in this group. We were in your face and not apologetic for it.
Whenever I run across those lists, it brings these women to mind. Many of the goals shared have come to pass, some have not. But the sharing of our hearts certainly affected us. The declarations made were real and the saying of them brought weight and power to the thought. One woman determined that either her marriage would get better, or it would end. One declared her art would come to life, or be put to rest. One was sure marriage would be a part of the coming year. In the sharing of these things, we took to heart what was the desire of our sisters. Prayer and encouragement followed as we tried to keep track of each others status. Some years we were better at it than others.
Our yearly meetings at Cracker Barrel have become a kind of altar in our lives. Not a place of worship, but a place of remembrance. Changes were made, ideas birthed, declarations proclaimed. We had agreed that in the coming year we would accomplish something special. Our meal together signified our unity in purpose and agreement to be accountable to each other. To know that there were others who loved us, agreed with us and supported us gave our hearts power...power to believe, to change, to dare. Even if all our proclamations did not come to pass, we were better for hoping for them and reaching for more.
As I look back on 2009 I find myself in places I never thought I would be. Without a “formal” church, relationships I thought would last forever severed. But in that pruning and cutting I have found that sometimes it’s a good thing that people leave our lives and that true church happens outside of the walls of a building.
So, what change for 2010? As I said, I sense expansion. The past few years have been ones of things “going away”...it is now time to rebuild, add. The forest seems to have been cleared a bit to actually see and appreciate the trees and perhaps do some building. What does that mean? Not sure yet, I just hope the “pruning” is done for a while ‘cause my branches are a little sore from the cutting!
Whatever is in store, I know it will include people and relationships. If there is one thing I have learned in my 51 years walking on this earth is that God is all about people coming together, relationships and fellowship. Whether you like it or not, you need me - and I need you.