2008, you were a _____________ year. (for the phrase, thank you IM)
as impossible as it is to characterize an entire year in one adjective, for some reason it is a good thought. it is good that it is in second person, a direct address. it is good that the year has a distinct reality, as sometimes our past can seem hazy and blended together. so what comes to mind? how would you fill in that blank?
in the context i first encountered this phrase, the blank stood for shitty--a word they didn't want to explicitly say. i'll say it, because i think there is a reality in appropriate language. not "appropriate" language, but language that truly fits a situation.
did i have a shitty year? well, no--that wouldn't be entirely accurate by any means. and yet, that's what i want to call 2008. disappointment can be quite the shading light. or shadow is probably a better term. maybe it's about looking for the light, not peering into the shadows. "shitty" is by no means the appropriate word. it is not the reality.
so what is the word for me? the word is dark. i don't mean for that to sound as dreadful as it perhaps might be taken. it's the rain not just the sun that helps a flower bloom, and light is scarce through the thick clouds of storms. i feel like i often flirt with vulnerability here, never really going too far--perhaps it's because a blog isn't an appropriate place for that, perhaps because it is so hard to be truly understood in this sort of medium. well, i think that i would rather be misunderstood or borderline inappropriate than disingenuous.
it wasn't long into you old 2008 when during a prayer vigil i was given the word "emptiness." that was to be my season, my place. it's strange how so very often this very inward place can be so unconnected from many of the outward realities of my life--how i interact with people, relationships, ministry, etc. but the inward reality is sharp and strong, and it is what pervades in retrospect. though the outward would in many ways begin to follow.
there was a search for a way out for a good while. a lesson, a revelation, a great purpose to have it all make sense--the ornate doors through which it would all be left behind, into freedom and fellowship and joy. no. pragmatism in no redemption. and loss is in many ways unredeemable. there is no reclaiming. for there is no claim on a life that is no longer your own. it is death. and that is the path down which any must go who are so foolishly willing before they begin. i fear that path ahead. i fear what else will be lost, what else we be taken.
i'm beginning to realize that my view of God is somewhat demanding, always wanting more. not in a sadistic way, but still always progressing. and i think i treat others in much the same way. if you're not growing you're going backwards. riiight. Lord save me from pragmatism and product/results-based spirituality.
what makes us think that a change in a number can cause all the old to go away and the new to be completely fresh? that just isn't the case in so many ways. i will live with the same things i bore in 2008. they will be no better simply because some numbers have reset. that doesn't mean i won't hope and look for a little light, though that certainly has been getting harder of late. is the heart the last thing to go?
a new year doesn't mean a new season. but here's to hoping that newness finds our way into the tired and wearisome places of our journeys. happy 2009.