Resolute

I’ve never been a big New Year’s Resolution guy. Probably because I have problems with both popular conceptions of discipline and rigid lists. The seasons themselves don’t fit into the calendar’s constraints, so why should I, who wants to dance to the rhythms of Spirit in this life?

Yet…

This year’s end brings with it more than the end of a calendar year. In our wrestling over timing and schedules, Amy and I decided the absolute best time for us to be joined in wedded bliss would be the first Saturday after the new year. Last year this was January 3.

So, I’m ending this year of 2009 with an added marker. It will be the end of my first year of marriage. For those who are wondering, it was a great, wonderful, joyful, excellent year. Amy and I get along smashingly, like we strongly suspected we would. Life hasn’t been without its challenges this year, but the challenges were not at all on the marriage side. Indeed, facing challenges with another was repeatedly a source of thanksgiving. I love Amy, and I love being married to her. In every way.

There’s a quality to this first year that she has felt strongly and while I haven’t been as vocal about it I think my whole lived life has reflected a similar theme. The first year of marriage is a year of feasting. While, maybe more symbolically so in our case than literally for the most part. This means, for me at least, a relaxing, a resting, an enjoying without feeling the weight of consuming pressure. With my PhD student status, and her job situation, this hasn’t been a constant refrain, but it really was a consistent one throughout the year. It was, for both of us, the year of jubilation.

Both of us were single for a long while, single in ways that went beyond our relational status and indeed very much defined our perspective on life. Some people get married early and always know the shared life. We, however, tended to live as individuals within the context of church and family and spirituality, finding our way with Christ in both the freedoms and disappointments the single, often lonely, life brings. This pushed both of us, driving us deeper in spirituality, and in that deeper into discovering God’s work in and through us. We tilled the soil of our souls with intense fervor. Even as the weather did not always bring consistent sun or rain.

This year, however, I at least relaxed in that work. I rested in God’s bounty. I maintained the posture of faith throughout, but felt free, maybe for the first time in years and years, from the intensity of demanding the soil produce a sustaining crop.

This end of the year, then, brings with it the change of both a new year and the end of this year of Jubilee. The feast year comes to a close, promising more feasts in the future but also, gently, reminding me of my duties and responsibilities in toiling the land.

Working the land of the soul is hard work, you see, and easily put to the side if we are distracted or discouraged about the possibilities. And at the end of the feast, sated with joy and rest, it is difficult to pick up the tools once more and participate in the rhythms and cycles that God orders in this life.

Yet, I feel this is the call, the renewed call, for me this coming year. And so, I’m working on finding renewed patterns of holistic growth, seeking to be resolute in building my spiritual life, deepening my intellectual life, exercising physically, and participating in the disciplines that build up not the body but the soul, leading me towards God in every way, and in doing that leading me towards God with others that share the same hope.

This carries with it some different habits I must encourage. I need to be more diligent about running and exercise. That’s the common one. I also am thinking I will be spending less time poking around blogs and Facebook, lessening my online listening. Such listening has been a profound place of discovery for me, hearing the conversations and priorities and expressions of others. Yet, listening so much can be a distraction, cutting down my ability to respond, to share, to offer something of my own. It is so easy to be caught up in all the words we become echoes of others in what we say, rather than contributing our unique perspective. So, I want to write more, finding again my voice in this season, a voice that hasn’t been silent, but does now feel a little emaciated and wan. In doing this, I hope to also find the quiet whisper of the Spirit again speaking to me in this season, leading me, encouraging me, helping me find that narrow path beneath the clutter of life’s busyness. I miss writing as a craft, and I want to get back to that, sharpening both my skills and my thoughts along the way. I want to write more succinct comments regularly, while picking up on older works and seeing how they fit within my deepening perspective.

Writing this today, this last day of the old year, is my way of both encouraging myself to the tasks and, indeed, slightly disturbing the usual trend of beginning the new on the new year’s first day. I end this year with hope and promise, celebrating what this year brought and even before it ends pointing myself towards the new steps, and the new toils, and the new hopes for this new year.

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