It’s coming up time for the New Year. I really like New Year’s resolutions. It helps me get a clear frame on what my priorities are for the short and medium term – to start on right now but expecting to take a while to process.
This year I have three resolutions.
Walk – spend time in nature
EAT CHALK – well, I posted about that during November. What I mean by that is that 2011 is to be a year when I focus on how I speak to people, to make it gentle and quiet, both in my voice and in what I have to say. All through the gospels, right from when the angels announced His birth and through a variety of incidents in the course of His life, we come across the phrase “Fear not” in connection with Jesus. “Don’t be afraid, it’s me.” I really like the idea that the voice of a person’s life, what a person’s whole self says, could be “Don’t be afraid”. So that when people see it’s you the tension goes out of them and they sigh with relief, “Oh! Phew! It’s you”.
For that to happen, the voice of a person’s life would have to be gentle and quiet; and strong too, I think. So that the sound of their voice brought people home to themselves, spoke peace.
To work towards that is one of my 3 tasks for 2011 – and that’s what I mean by “eat chalk”.
WALK – SPEND TIME IN NATURE – I really could do with getting some more exercise. I also crave time just being with the beauty of everything. During 2010 I did so much writing (I wrote 4 books; that’s a lot!) that all through the breezy blue sunlit days I was perched up in my garret, writing and writing, with a cloth hung from the window to keep the noon light and the afternoon light and the light of the sun setting out of my eyes. I didn’t go on the beach even though I live near the sea. I didn’t go walking in the hills or the woods. I didn’t sit out in the garden. I didn’t cook outdoors. I just wrote.
I wouldn’t quite know myself if I wasn’t writing something, and I have started a new book, but this one can go more slowly. This year I want to spend time walking, and being outside in nature. I love the earth. I love the beauty. It moves me so deeply, and it fills my soul with joy; all of it, the grass and the light on the water, the flight of birds and the stateliness of trees, the smell of dust and grass and flowers, the feeling of sun on my skin, the sparkle of frost.
This winter when it snowed, one day I had to go up into the hills to take a funeral, and the roads weren’t safe for my little car. So I had a lift with the funeral director’s bearers, and we had to go a circuitous route to stay on safe roads. The latest fall of snow had been very light and soft, every leaf and twig bore a tottering load of snow. The funeral was at half-past three in the afternoon, as the sun was low in the sky. Travelling up to the crematorium we drove through a fairy land of snowy trees, and when we came out from the funeral the sun was setting. The grass lawns of the cemetery were smooth expanses of untrodden snow, sparkling and glistening where the light caught and shadowed blue. Across these expanses fell great panels of vermilion light from the setting sun. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I’m so glad I didn’t miss it.
So this year I want to spend more time outside, to walk and think and just be, knowing I am alive and marvelling at the beauty, being grateful for the chance to have been here, the chance to have been part of this beautiful earth,
LIVE SPACIOUSLY – I don’t know exactly what’s happening with me, but I am getting less and less able to accommodate mental clutter. I cannot cope with complicated relationships – tension and arguments and games. I cannot even bear too much human company (Julie if you are reading this, it does NOT mean your visit to us in September – maybe you are not exactly human; I will be just fine with you :0)
And I can’t be bothered with the endless interaction Things require – tidying and sorting, washing and organising – some of them will have to go. Things set up a kind of IV to themselves from one’s soul – they drain energy away. And I can’t cope with complex schedules. I can feel the tug of a number of people I’m supposed to visit and spend time with… and somehow… I don’t. I care about them. I am happy to pray for them. I think about them. And there it stops. I’m not going to see them.
Today, we had visitors for the day. Fortunately, having raised five children, my hands know how to put together an adequate meal with little input from my head. But as I looked at the crumpled, slightly grubby cloth on the table, and put out for each person just a fork and a paper napkin, I had to concede that my performance as a hostess makes even the stable at Bethlehem look relatively stylish. Basic. That’s all I can do. I can feed them something tasty and nutritious, they are welcome at my fireside, and I care about them – how they feel, how they are in themselves, what their dreams are and their faith, their spirit inside them. More than that I cannot do.
I feel guilty about it often. An example: my mother is on the brink of moving house. She is coming to live near us so that as she gets old we shall be there for her. I am conscious that as her daughter I should have been to stay with her and helped her pack up her home. I have left it to her friends to do that, and it is remiss of me. But she is a lady of many treasured possessions, and very decided and particular preferences – and the will to tangle with all of that is like expired elastic in me. I can’t make myself do it.
This year, I am giving permission to myself to live without guilt in relation to these changes. I am going to make space for the urgent need to live simply. I will have only the honesty of who I am to offer, here in my home. Sometimes, when I can, I will make it to someone else’s place to visit, but if I can’t get my head together to do that, I will accept it in myself, and just hope they do too.
I am going to undertake the discipline to do one thing at a time, to let things go, to walk quietly through the days of my life, building structures of the Peaceable Kingdom.
I have thoughts about life, but in social situations – parties and visiting scenarios – I have less and less to say about anything. I am going to accept that.
If I am not harassed by things to do and deadlines to meet and social interactions to accomplish, then when my grandson comes to visit me, I am pleased to see him. When I am overwhelmed by the pressure of what people want of me and tasks scrambling to get done, then he becomes a nuisance. I will not have a child become a nuisance; that is not of God. So in 2011 I am going to make my life more spacious, so that there is room in my spirit to welcome the little ones of God.
WALK – SPEND TIME IN NATURE
IN 2011 – THAT’S ME