Thursday, January 13, 2011

Words of Solace

"So sudden loss causes us to look backward – but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness, generosity, compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we may question whether we are doing right by our children, our community, whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality; we are reminded that in our fleeting time on earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -– but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better."

--President Barack Obama, January 12, 2011

Sunday, January 02, 2011

What are You Doing New Year's Eve?

In the waning hours of 2010, I considered going out in response to a solid invitation to one party and the probability that any number of my friends would be ushering in 2011 in the ATown. In light of last year's epic fail, I had compelling reasons to attempt to start off the new year in finer form. I considered the old superstition that what you're doing as the calendar starts over sets the tone for the coming 12 months, and I certainly wanted to be on better terms with the impending '11 than I was on its decade-capping predecessor.

It ended up that, even though Reese came down with the flu earlier in the week, the family was able to make it to my parents' house for our belated Christmas celebration. This holiday confusion (otherwise known as the Christmess) does tend to make for a difficult time truly enjoying New Year's Eve. And as it turned out, with relocating my bed to the new house and the kitchen remodel, we were short sleeping arrangements at Mom and Dad's, so Anna and me made our trek across town to spend the night at my house.

And so it was that the final moments of 2010 ticked off the clock. Anna went to bed, and I lay in my own bed, listening to the pops and crackles of fireworks outside in the night sky. I lay in the darkness and let the sad lonely year ebb away. In the silence that followed, I could almost hear the freshness of 2011's arrival. Like a sudden rush of warm air distilled in a soft white puff again the winter night, it came. And with it, sweet hope. I lay listening to the way the air changed, to the way that the light shifted, to my own breathing. I felt suddenly empty; but emptied of the heavy burden of so much sadness and tragedy. Hollowed out as it were, like midnight spooned out the lead and left behind a smooth, dark place for good things to settle.

In the stillness, I prayed for this fragile new year. I prayed that its tender newness would be allowed to blossom into something wonderful. I prayed to God to keep my hands reaching out toward Him, toward hope, toward the belief that there is plan so much greater than what I've imagined I missed or lost or let pass me by. And so I closed my eyes against the clean night sky that was already making its way toward the first day of the new year. And I fell asleep with a prayer on my lips. At home. With hope.