So it’s the second day of the New Year. New Start, clean slate and all that jazz. I’m not there just yet though, not quite made it through the threshold and into all that newness and cleanness yet.
Just one more day.
Just one more day of kids home from school and the tree still there, wilting slowly in the corner of the living room. I know it’s days are numbered but still it hangs on, lights twinkling just one more morning, curtains drawn against the dark January skies. There’s still board games half-played on tables, craft projects mid-flow, presents yet to find their way to a permanent resting place. Every surface half-covered, all around the signs of lazy days and a full house and no rush, no plan, nowhere to be.
So much to do before the New Year really begins. Am I really ready this time?
Sometimes those fresh starts and new challenges appear before us all shiny and new and we just can’t wait. Can’t hold ourselves back from charging into all that newness and blank canvas and open road. Every muscle taut, every sinew straining, waiting, poised. We’re like an athlete at the top of our game, finely honed, perfectly prepared. Everything leading up to this moment, and all that preparation perfecting itself here and now. Fire the gun! Let us go! We can’t wait to show the world what we’ve got. Send us over the top and into battle. We’re ready.
We are invigorated by the challenge, set free from what has gone before and all that has held us back. It is like being released from the traps and given a second chance. It is good, and we thrive on it.
I love those times. I wish all new years and new starts felt good like that.
Today, mine looks like cleaning the living room and polishing school shoes. Of January belt-tightening and packing away of Christmas decorations and waving my husband off to work and getting back to the realities of life.
Sometimes, those sorts of new years are not so easy to get psyched up for. I feel less like an athlete and more like a reluctant recruit, wondering what I’ve signed up for and what do I do next? Going over the top feels scary and I’m not sure I’m ready and what difference will it all make anyways?
We stand at the edge of the beach and watch the gentle roll of the waves. In and out. In and out. In and out.
The sun hangs low on the horizon. Winter rays reflecting off soft, wet sand, turning the cold all golden. Our breath rises and we splash in the shallows.
The wide expanse of the low, low tide reveals hidden caves and rock pools filled with secrets like treasure and we clamber and climb and laugh and look. Look at newness of it all, in spite of ourselves. This beach that is so familiar to us, becomes new again under our newly appreciative gaze and the cleansing regularity of the waves that wash it clean.
The sea is calm today. Small ripples of wave that make pebbles jump and that quiet rush that fills your ears. Today is not a roar, it is a gentle music that stills the soul and quietens the spirit.
Not all days are like this one. Some are mountainous days with waves of such ferocity that you stand on the cliff tops and look to the sea and wonder if this is all some giant cosmic battle, and who will win this time? As waves pound and the sounds fill the air like the cracks of thunder, it seems impossible that it will ever subside, that these rocks will withstand. Heartache, heartbreak, death, disease, disaster, famine. They roar around us and who would blame us for asking the question: can we remain? Will we make it this time?
Days and years go by and ebb and flow like the tide. Some days and years are calm and peaceful and we call all of those blessing. Some not so, the waves pounding and the noise deafening and so we stand, and brace, and try to remain.
Sometimes we run into the New Year with arms flung open wide, head back and laughing; optimism pouring from our hearts and we feel as if we are splashing in the shallows, all low summer sun lighting us gold.
Sometimes we look up, and we take stock and we nod, yes, we are still here. Still standing. Battered, perhaps by the storms and waves and the noise; but still here.
And I realise this: that whether you’re running or just still standing, it’s still a new start.
The waves come in and the waves go out. Back and forward. Back and forward. In and out. Day after day. All that goes before is carried away, and in it’s place, all that remains is beautiful, smooth, washed-again newness.
And you might not feel ready, or good enough this time. You might not feel energised, inspired, or engaged. But you ARE here. Still standing. And that – that is blessing enough for today, and hope enough for tomorrow. For this new year. For this new start.
The steadfast love of the Lᴏʀᴅ never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (The Bible – Lamentations 3:22–23)
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