At the start of each new year, we like to choose one word. A guide or theme for the year, so to speak. Something to give us focus in the ebb and flow of life.
Our word for 2015 was “Strengthen.” We wanted to become stronger; we also needed strength. In retrospect, it was a hard, dark year marked by the unexpected presence of Post Partum Depression, but we did receive all the strength we needed to get through it.
For 2016, we are choosing the word, “Moments.”
Personally speaking, as I begin 2016, I know that I am on the path toward healing. I found a good counsellor who has been helping me work through my expectations of myself and my anxieties. I have the support of a solid group of women whom I meet with every two weeks. I have upped my level of self-care; going to Zumba and making time for painting, writing, reading and puzzling. Most notably, I am getting better sleep. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, God!)
Being a chronic future-dweller, I want to be intentional this year about living in the present. When I think about time, each day is really a series of moments all strung up next to each other. Richard Rohr, in his insightful podcast, When Time Comes to a Fullness, says, “At the end of our lives, we don’t remember days, we only remember moments.” I don’t want to miss out on the small experiences while looking for the next big thing. I want to inhabit my life fully.
I came across this interesting verse from Ezra 9:8 (NLT). It says, “But now we have been given a brief moment of grace, for the Lord our God has allowed a few of us to survive as a remnant. He has given us security in this holy place. Our God has brightened our eyes and granted us some relief from our slavery.” To be honest, being parents to young children while trying to run a business feels like slavery sometimes. It’s the brief moments of grace that give us strength to carry on. The few minutes, or seconds even, when our eyes are brightened and we are granted relief from the grind of it all.
With this in mind, I want to notice the beautiful, the lovely, the heartwarming – all these brief moments of grace. I want to take in my husband’s silliness and my children’s laughter while the lunchtime dishes still clutter the table. I want to press the smallness of my daughters’ hands, feet and faces close to mine because they will never be this little again. I want to soak in the beauty of the sunset because this particular blend of colours and shapes is unique to today. I want to let time stand still as my child and I share a laugh in the middle of a bustling restaurant. I will keep some photos and videos to remind me of these days, but I also want to put my camera aside at times so I can simply experience the moment. I want to connect with as much of me as I can.
I want to be unhurried and welcoming toward myself and those around me. To hold space inside myself for discovery and rest. To believe in “enough” – that there is enough time and resources; that I am enough. In choosing to honour the moments, I am choosing the path of contentment and silencing the voice of scarcity. I want the way I move through my days to be a reflection of internal settledness; to lead me to that place of settledness.
I also want to be fully present in the moments when I feel overwhelmed. When the pot is boiling over on the stove and my little ones are tugging at my pants. I want to feel the grief of farmers in South Africa watching their flocks die from the worst drought in 30 years. To enter into the pain of friends and family living in the shadow of cancer. I want to engage even when – especially when? – mentally checking out feels like an appealing option. And if I choose to get lost in social-media-land? I want to be conscious of the fact that I’m trying to escape. I want to be fully alive.
I want to surrender my moments to God. To ask Him to fill them with grace and to grant me awareness of that grace.
I want to pay attention. And if prayer is paying attention, then I want to pray.
I’m not aiming for perfection. I know I will miss some moments now and again. But my goal is to grow in awareness. As a family, we are writing down our moments in a little notebook on our kitchen counter. Hopefully by the end of the year, we will have a notebook full of “brief moments of grace”; a record of sorts inspired by this quote from Frederick Buechner (Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation):
“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”