The year that was… The year that will be

1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis. Queen Elizabeth II

While I cannot look back on 2014 with undiluted pleasure, I am not sure it ranks quite bad enough to throw latin at it.

  • At one point the universe seemed to be smiting our vehicles, picking off Mom’s car, the hub’s beloved motorcycle Pearl, and Westley the trusty pickup in quick succession.
  • There were poorly-timed illnesses, ongoing frustrations with health insurance providers, and the items that went missing.
  • Time was always too tight, given jobs and internships, coursework and volunteer hours.
  • There were relationships that ended, others that became strained.  And we had to say goodbye to some dear people who died.
  • This was the first Christmas without the kiddo at home

And that doesn’t even begin to take into account the reality of the chaos, violence, and sadness of the world beyond our home and family.

  • Immigrant children, ebola victims, Syrian refugees, Palestinian and Israeli families…
  • School shootings, police brutality, torture reports…
  • Ongoing battles for basic civil rights among ethnic and sexual minorities…

And yet – when I look back at the last year, there were some real bright spots

  • Our friends made sure we had a vehicle to use until we were ready to buy, and Pearl was resurrected (at much less cost than anticipated)
  • Mom won a free cruise for 2 to Alaska and I got to tag along.
  • We spent time as a family at Disney, enjoying a summer break “on safari” and a Christmas tradition at the Candlelight Processional
  • I have had many opportunities to preach and teach and stretch my theological leadership wings a bit
  •  3-4 nights during the holidays were spent at the kitchen table playing Mexican Train dominos – talking smack, laughing and mostly ignoring iDevices.

I don’t know what 2015 will hold for me, for the family, for the country and the world that we are part of.  Sometimes I think we are spinning out of control, all of us.  I remember when I was pregnant this time 20 years ago, I thought the same thing… I couldn’t imagine what made us think it was a good idea to bring a child into this insane and deadly world.

I think about the women who are pregnant today in Sierra Leone, in Afghanistan and Iraq, in Ferguson, Missouri. They live in the midst of illness, terror and oppression in ways that I never have, and they press on, they bear the weight and hope of new life into this new year.  Like mothers the world over, from every generation, they dream dreams for their children.

As I watch the child I bore straddle the line between adolescent and adult and begin to forge an independent path, I still dream and worry and watch and hope. The world is still not safe enough, fair enough, good enough.  There are too many people who are more interested in their own money, power and opinions than in common good and common sense. Including me, sometimes. Too often.

Oh, for the day when moms and children, dads and babies, grandparents and godparents, families that come together in all manner of patterns by birth and by choice… would know what it means to love and be loved, see and be seen, wherever their steps lead them each day.

So I will pray in this new year:

God of babies and elders, of tweens and middleagers,
God of the poor and discarded, of the comfortable and celebrated,
God of the grieving and heartbroken, of the carefree and joyful,
God of the straight white man and of the queer woman of color,
God who loves the believer, the skeptic, the naysayer and the denier,
We all need you this year.

Whether or not we know it is you,
Whatever name we use for you, hold us close.
Give us rest, peace, hope and comfort,
Not in those things that the world lifts up as wise and helpful
But in the things that are true and desperately needed in the world.
Point us to the truths of your creation and our place in it,
To the wonders of grace and love that Christ embodied,
To the power of the Spirit you impart to us.
Prompt more and more of us to speak up and stand up for the oppressed.
Surprise us with relationships across borders – territorial, political and philosophical.
Show us where your light shines, especially in our moments of personal darkness,
So that we might have the courage to shine for you.

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