It’s still dark outside. I’m the only one awake in the stillness. Huddled here, writing under the glow of twinkle lights before they return to the attic on Epiphany. The distant growl of the garbage truck sleuthing through the neighborhood breaks up the silence, picking up discarded fragments of yesterday’s joy.
I’ve been quiet on the blog for a few days. I needed to bask in the Light, break away from the noise of social media and cling hard to Peace. Stare at the manger under the tree for a while; see my place there next to Jesus more clearly.
I’ll admit it; there is a dread that lurks alongside re-entry into ordinary time. Do you feel it?
The celebratory seasons, they cast their glorious glow of communion on the masses. All laying down our agendas, gathering around the community tree of gladness, focused on hope. But in the tearing off of days, we come closer to laundry, lists, and leftovers, their needfulness shadowing us languid.
How do we enter the New Year maintaining perspective and peace?
I’ve noticed it, the clarity that comes from silent clocks, flexible schedules,closed computer screens, feasting without guilt, and reading. Lots of reading. How the lines around the eyes take their place without defiance when time is slow and hurry waits.
And I don’t make resolutions, but I listen to Peace. And this is what I hear:
Reading is necessary, not a luxury.
Good fiction inspires.
Most things in life come easier on the heels of rest. Choose bedtimes well.
A long walk outside clears cobwebs of the mind. Do it often, every day if you must.
The best way to share a story is to live first, then write about it.
Having a journal ready on your lap during quiet time is not only useful, it’s wise.
Because when God speaks, he wants me to remember it. Not just now, but later . . . when I can’t hear Him as well.
Taking a break from routine helps extract joy in the mundane when you return to it.
Carrying a camera strapped over your shoulder on a walk is always a good idea, even when your children roll their eyes about it.
It’s healthy to throw caution and calories to the wind during the seasons of celebration.
Who I am informs what I do, not the other way around.
When what I do becomes who I am, everything gets messy.
I threw away stale cookies, bought a new lamp after I dropped my mother-in-law off at the airport and made stir-fry for dinner with leftovers. Tomorrow I’ll get up early, plug in the teapot and sit in the Light while my tea bag seeps into a new year.
I am resolute about one thing: Listening to Peace so I can bloom into being.
Q4U: What about you, do you make resolutions? Did you learn anything new about yourself on vacation?
No resolutions here. I’m writing about it for THC in a few days, or maybe weeks. Perhaps I should make a resolution about deadlines.
I always look forward to reading your words. No matter when they come.
I am eating up your distinction between “who I am” and “what I do.”
What a feast in these words . . . will let it simmer awhile longer.
Thank you, Shelly.
I was thinking about the whole resolution thing and how it is opposite sometimes of being in Christ. We don’t do in order to become, its the other way around. I think we believe a wrong message as Christians sometimes that we have to do more to be acceptable and resolutions sometimes (not always) feel like more doing.
Resolutions are funny things. There’s a tension in them, as we stretch ourselves to make a firm commitment, but not wanting to be so brittle, that we break if we don’t end up keeping them. Jonathan Edwards made seventy-seven resolutions. I admire him, but don’t think I could ever think of that many, much less keep them all. I love your idea, Shelly, of resolving to do one thing–to make time for peace to seep into the crevices of your life as you slow down to absorb it–and then to let the edges of your life flow from the peaceful center–where the Prince of Peace resides. I once heard someone say that she was resolved to choose life, not death. This truly clarified things for her. Each decision became an either/or proposition that was pretty easy to make, based on this single criterion. I never know how to keep things one-thing simple….but I want to try, as I resolve this year to understand what real vision is and ask God to reveal His vision for my life. As much as I ADORE reading and fully agree with you about its importance, I’m thinking about fasting from it for a month or so and only reading God’s Word and journaling. I can’t tell you how much that frightens me. (I feel a trembling in my soul). I feed off writers. But I’m thinking I need to just feast off God for awhile. I have no idea if I can do this, but I’m praying about it. I’ll join you, though, on your journaling and walks and cups of piping tea and breaks from mundanity, caution, and calories and living my stories (and writing about them), but I may put book-reading on hold….it’s still up in the air (though I hope I’m brave enough). I can tell you I won’t be carrying a camera (even my Instamatic photos were blurry!!), but I will be singing my heart out. That, too, brings me peace and joy, as daily I practice my Bach. And let’s pray the Prince of Peace will come to us both in His own time, in His own way, to meet our every need. God bless you in this fresh New Year, my friend Shelly! And may He ever bring you peace!
Oh my, that would be a hard one for me too Lynn. I’ve realized how much reading inspires my writing and thoughts about God. But if God told me to do it, I would because I know He has my best interest in mind. And on the other side of obedience lies indescribable fulfillment.
Thank you for your strong encouragement, Shelly!
I love all the thoughts you “hear” — and the one about good fiction inspiring especially leaps out at me because I’m always disheartened to find so many people who think fiction is somehow…’second class.” God speaks to me so much in truly good fiction and I bless the beautiful writers whose work I’ve come to treasure. Blessings to you as you listen to Peace – love his name of Shalom.
And I should’ve added that books don’t have to be Christian to be inspirational. I read a lot of fiction that is not Christian and it informs my faith too.
So much truth here. Lovely.
Thank you Marianne. Appreciate your encouragement.
No resolutions here, either. Just an awareness that each day is a new start to be a more yielded ‘me’ to what the Father is always speaking to me….and yes, I did learn about something over vacation but I can’t write about it ’cause I don’t have time to wrap my brain around it. Your post was full of many good reminders–all of which I need as I return to school tomorrow. The world is too much with us–we need to be much more purposeful about stepping apart. The doable item on your list–a walk each day. MUST. TRY. THAT.
Bless you, Shelly.
I love your Wordsworth quote, Jody!
So far I’ve walked in the rain, and in temperatures right above freezing. And each walk has been worth every step. Hope you have good start to the rest of the school year Jody.
Lovely, what a peaceful post, loved reading it!
Thanks for being here Anita. Appreciate you.
Shelly, you’ve captured these lingering days perfectly. And I like you more and more when I read things like:
-The best way to share a story is to live first, then write about it.
-Carrying a camera strapped over your shoulder on a walk is always a good idea, even when your children roll their eyes about it.
-When what I do becomes who I am, everything gets messy
I am so thankful for your gentle wisdom in this space.
I think you and I would enjoy a long walk anywhere with our camera strapped over the shoulder. Thankful for you too Holly.
Oh Shelly…This is excellent! Sitting in the Light and Peace obviously agrees with you. I related to your words so well.
I have found, over the past few years, that I ‘think on Jesus’ much better AFTER the rush and hullabaloo of the Christmas Season. When all is said and done, I just sit and stare at the beautiful Nativity under my tree and think on things above. I continue with the carols and hymns and sing along…really sing TO HIM. I DO feel a certain trepidation as I un-decorate the tree, secretly wishing ‘the Christmas Spirit’ could just continue for ALL people, ALL year long…but, sadly, it doesn’t. ‘LIFE goes on’, as they say.
The secret really does lie in ‘that secret place’ of the Lord, being still and knowing. Keeping that journal on one’s lap as they listen for ‘the Voice of The One’. Focusing on maintaining peace in one’s soul. For only then can we truly face “the ordinary” with grace and mercy and everlasting truth. And ‘be’ the kind of person we were truly made to be.
So dont’ take your tree down, Jillie! =] I hate to tell you when I take ours down. Wishing you journaling joy this New Year and the peace of our Savior.
I’ll think of you in the quiet Jillie, and thank God for the way He brought you here to be an encouragement in my life. Thank you for being here.
Oh…And I do not make New Year’s resolutions. But I like the idea of having a ‘word’ for the year ahead. Not sure what my word is yet, but waiting and listening for it. I ‘think’ it might be “risk”.
I like the way risk looks on you Jillie, made my heart leap. We’ll see if you decide to wear it this year.
I really don’t have anything profound to say. I just wanted to let you know that I very much enjoy your writing. Many of your posts speak deeply to me. Thank you for sharing your gifts and talents with us. May you and your family be much blessed in this brand new year.
Laura, what you said IS profound to me. Really. Thank you for being here. Your words are a bright spot leading the way home.
My heart resonates with this. I dread return to normal. This rest has been restorative. Love this, “Taking a break from routine helps extract joy in the mundane when you return to it.” Happy new year to you!
To you too Christina. I”m feeling like a child with my arms crossed and stamping my feet about getting back into routine. The break has been restorative for me too. It helps knowing I’m not alone about it all. Thanks for being here. Appreciate you.
These words here made me tear up. I am in such a season of contemplation. I feel that I have nothing to say and everything to think about. I hear “Listen” and “Read” and “Slow” and I am. All of these things. I have missed you so much though Shelly. I really have and I love you sweet friend. Your “resolutions” are perfect. Really.
You’ve been on my heart and in my prayers. We creatives can be a bit too much in our heads sometimes and get too far off course. Sometimes saying what you are thinking out loud to someone gives it perspective and lifts the spirit back on the road home. Sending you lots of love my friend. Look forward to reading your words when they spill. You do have something to say.