Goals for a New Year

(not necessarily in this order; non-poetic, but brassiest tacks)

 

Risk.

Gaze.

Relax.

Minimize.

Move.

Trust.

Pray.

Push.

Deepen.

Write.

Connect.

 

Risk.

I like to play on the safe side. Some looking at the story of my life thus far might demur. But from the inside, that’s what it feels like. And many, as life goes on and the decades increase in number, might become more risk-aversive, whether they were or were not before. But I tell you, playing it safe sucks (to use the old-time vernacular). These times, locally and worldwide, are precisely the worst of times to be ruled by fear. Step out. Step up. Now. I intend to risk.

 

Gaze.

Everything 21st century moves too fast. Traffic. How time is experienced. Conversation. Meals. Decision-making. E-v-e-r-y-T-h-i-n-g. I want to slow it way down, all of it that I can affect at all. Am I driving too slowly? Honk, pass me by, grimace. Am I talking too slowly? Adjust your listening. Am I thinking slowly? It’s because I want to understand truly. I want to take whatever time is needed to actually see. To see the face of the person I’m talking with. To see the eyes of the person at the checkout counter. To see the arc of the moon rising in the evening sky. To see toward the meaning of this beautiful fleeting gift we call life. Gaze. It’s much slower than glancing. And the benefits are profound.

 

Relax.

I long ago gave permission for my life to be driven by forces outside myself. People. Organizations. Rules. Calendars and schedules. I am accustomed to all that. I can live it and live with it. But at both regular and irregular intervals I hereby publicly reserve the right (based on the duty) to back away from all of that, to turn my back, and to sit. To watch a river’s current. To sit long and still in the silence of an ancient church. To go away and retreat. To say nothing. To think less. Relax.

 

Minimize.

I am surrounded by way too much stuff. It’s not enough for an episode of Hoarders, but it’s enough to call for change. Too much US mail. Too much email. Too much work mail. Too many texts. Too much old clothing hanging in closets and stuffed in dressers. Too much furniture. Too many gadgets. Too much paper. Too many to-do lists. Too many apps. Too many bills. Why-t-f do I have two places to live? Two? It’s twice too many. I can fit in one room with everything I need. Time to let go. Time to downsize. Minimize.

 

Move.

I am usually in motion. But it’s usually in a vehicle or in bursts of physical activity that are way too brief. I need to move. Move the body. Here’s a modest start. How about a good long walk with the dog every day? Every day. The dog doesn’t like to walk either. What’s up with that?   In fact, why not one day up the ante and take both the dog and the cat for a walk? There’s an adventure (and a youtube video) waiting to happen. On second thought, I’ll walk myself. It’s only a beginning. Move.

 

Trust.

There are a lot of people in my life with whom I would trust my life without hesitation. I am so grateful for them, and so grateful for that trust. Behind them is the source and ground and goal of trust. There is our gentle God. Every morning (and some evenings) I pray for half an hour. There is the pathway to trust. I trust now. I desire to trust more. Trust.

 

Pray.

Every morning (and some evenings) I pray for half an hour. (Do you know that I sometimes repeat myself?) (Repeat?) (Myself?) I pray one word: Abba. For thirty minutes. Just one word. I have a small brain and smaller heart. Both need expansion, but I have to begin somewhere. And so I pray the one word that we are told Jesus used to address God his Father. Abba. I breathe it in. And I breathe all else out. If it were not for that half hour (and sometimes hour) I would not live. Listen to me. Not: “I would not live well.” I would not live. I will continue. Pray.

 

Push.

I am natively shy. I like the background. Funny, the calling that found me and puts me so often literally in front. I often remain quiet unless I am asked to speak. But you know, maybe this is another time. I’ve been hanging around for a while. I have heard a lot of voices. Some wisdom. Some nonsense. I think there are situations into which I have something to share that may shed another light, that may deepen conversation, that may move toward a response toward healing. Sometimes I may have more insight than others in the room. Can that be so? So sometimes I need to speak up, to act up, to push. Get ready. Push.

 

Deepen.

Modern (post-modern?) life often seems content to fly along the surface. That’s okay in iceskating. (It’s actually recommended there). But in living human lives, we need to dig deeper, beneath the surface. We need to seek the meaning underneath. Because, you know, it is actually there, that deeper meaning. If we fail to mine, we are failing ourselves, failing our Creator, failing our successors and the succeeding generations. Individually and together communally we need to dig. There’s good stuff to be found and shared. Deepen.

 

Write.

There are parts of my job that require me to write. And there are parts of my job that prevent me from writing. The same could be said of my schedule and of my relationships. I write only occasionally when I am not required to do so. Only occasionally. And yet, I love it. There is where the depth is accessed. I need to let go (am I saying this?) of the parts of my job that prevent me from writing. Someone else may like to do those parts. I think one thing I can do well (sometimes at least) is t write. I need to do it more. Write.

 

Connect.

There are some times for blessed solitude and times when solitude shows itself a blessing. I’ll take it gratefully. But life is an invitation to connect. That’s what it is. As soon as we are born. While we grow. As we decline, even there. Life is an invitation to connect. I am connected in so many ways to so many lives – near, far, living in this world, living in God’s own peace. I desire to take up and celebrate and deepen and write about and pray about those sacred connections. Relate. Connect. Live.

 

These are some goals for a new year.

 

Wall and Dream and Voice

Wall

He is old now, living in the center of

His ninth decade here,

But he carries the years like

A mantle of wealth, rather than a burden.

 

He asks me if I saw the stone wall

At the entrance to the college.

I did, and admired it. He tells me

His son, gone now from this world

 

Brought that wall to be and put it in its place

A thing of skill and beauty,

Perfection in its own way. Its sweep

And length and even its breaks

 

Say: Here is something of substance

Of which you are welcome to partake.

And I dream the next night and hear

These words, “Blessed is the man

 

Who knows his own home place,

Who can name it, and tell its story.”

I did not know the voice, but

There was authority in the saying.

 

(J. McGinty, 1/2/16)