2016 is gone. And while no one is more ready to say goodbye to this year and face 2017 with hopeful anticipation, I’d be remiss if I didn’t yet again number my joys from these past 12 months. Because we have to remember the good, to carry with us the moments and things that brought light into dark places.
The old scriptures have many references to remembering. There’s so much wisdom in that — to not let your self forget that you survived, you were comforted, you found joy, you were taken care of– even when days were dark. Because inevitably, we’ll find ourselves in similar places, and will need to remind ourselves that yes, we may have been here before, and yes we made it through.
So, here’s to 2016. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, but thanks for the following things intersecting my life– they have left a sacred mark.
MOST NEEDED MUSIC OF 2016:
Sandra McCracken’s God’s Highway. This album came out in early September, just as I was coming out of a first trimester fog of nausea, exhaustion, and overwhelming stress that left me feeling confused and anxious about so many things in my life – not the least of which was the idea of having a child. This album was balm to my soul, not in that it just comforts afflictions, but draws your eyes up beyond your circumstances. (I’ve since sent this to so many friends going through hard times. It is truly a gift.)
MOST NEEDED READS OF 2016:
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. I feel like I was late to this game, but this is on here for obvious reasons. This letter to his son (which reads more like poetry) is arresting. You cannot dismiss other people’s stories. You cannot explain them away, or rationalize them to make yourself feel better. Full stop. Things are broken in this country, and we all have a role we have played in making it so, and we all have a role in seeing our need for redress.
Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect. For totally different reasons, this book put words to my near-present life. I feel in so many ways that I’ve grown up with Shauna, and as she moves through life, charting and gently redirecting her course, I (and my book club) find ourselves in similar places.
MOST NEEDED PODCAST OF 2016:
Episode 34 of The Liturgists: Black & White – Racism in America. I’ve listened to this almost 2 hour podcast multiple times. So important, so necessary (see above re: Between the World and Me for why).
MOST NEEDED LESSON OF 2016:
- Relentlessly pursue truth inside myself and for my relationships. Over the past year, Chris and I have referred to ourselves as truth-tellers, for ourselves and to each other. We’ve burned ourselves and our marriage too many times to count by hiding our fears and shame. We also found that you just can’t do that if you want to be a healthy human person, much less be a happily married person. So, we’ve prayed a lot and continue to drag the dark corners of our hearts and souls into the light. And it stings, don’t get me wrong, but I’m pretty sure there is no other way to live.
- Relentlessly pursue truth for our place and space in this world. The world needs “truth-tellers, light-bearers and peace-makers” (source). That means, we have our work to do. Peace making is no passive sitting-by, and telling the truth means actually finding the truth. We must pull the thread to see if the fabric unravels or if it is proven strong. This all sounds nebulous but, for me, it looks like: reading my Bible (shockingly, it’s often at odds with the “Christian leaders” who have the loudest voices). It means listening to perspectives different than my own, and listening to trusted people who know how to interpret scripture better than I. And last, it means supporting many (key word: many, not just one) who are doing the hard work of truth-telling — i.e. Christianity Today, NPR, New York Times, WaPo, AP….take your pick. Advocate for truth, fight for it, and speak up for those who otherwise don’t have a voice.
MOST NEEDED THING IN 2016 THAT I DIDN’T KNOW I NEEDED:
The Enneagram. A few things before you go out and take the test. If you aren’t deeply (painfully!) in touch with your self and your potential for deceit, fear, anger, shame, control, etc. the enneagram will just be a nice personality tool. If you are indeed in touch with these things (believe me, you know if you are), it becomes a sacred, honing tool to help you have grace for yourself, grow, change, and have compassion for others. I cannot downplay the significance this tool/practice has had on my own life or on my marriage. If you want to start with the Enneagram and can’t get to a conference, I’d start by either reading the book The Road Back to You, or listening to their podcast that features stories from different numbers.
…Aaaaand I think that’s it. Well, honestly, there’s much much more, but I’ll leave it here, and I’ll leave this retrospective grateful, ready, hopeful. See your beautiful faces again soon. Thanks, as always, for reading.