Now that we have clinked our champagne glasses and hurrahed for the new year, I’m reflecting on this past year. I thought about posting a blog of my favorite wedding photos, but y’all have already seen those. Instead, I sifted through the unedited little snapshots of life and some editorial pieces I’ve done for the Georgetown View to find photographs that remind me of stories I got to witness and be a part of this year. 2014 was beautiful and difficult, in the way that each year brings its glories and its tragedies. I made steps towards healing that were years overdue and finally learned how to be angry because of great love. We welcomed a sweet, stubborn little kitty cat and mourned with friends when they lost theirs. I saw men triumph over addictions, women celebrate their children, and veterans pray for peace. We explored beautiful places on both coasts and hidden paradises a few miles down the road. I (mostly) conquered fear on the rock wall and (mostly) stopped making my decisions based on other people. I enjoyed solitude and community, work and play, successes and failures. I learned and grew so much more than I ever have, because I tried new and terrifying things. Sometimes that went well, other times, not so much. But either way, even in my failures, I feel courageous.
Growing up, I read voraciously. College and a few years of workaholism stole that from me, but since getting married and setting good boundaries, I’ve reclaimed that great love of mine. Most recently, I’ve been devouring East of Eden by John Steinbeck, and frequently read passages out loud to my husband. I love his poignant descriptions and whole chapters of musings on the human heart. At one point the characters are discussing a passage from the story of Cain and Able where God tells Cain that though he has killed his brother, he still timshel conquer over sin and evil. That Hebrew word has been translated as ‘should,’ and ‘will,’ but perhaps is best translated as ‘may’. This passage from the book so beautifully sums up what I feel about this past year.
“Now, there are millions in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou’ and throw their weight into obedience, And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with what will be. But ‘Thou mayest;! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win….I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed- because ‘Thou mayest.’ …It is true that we are weak and sick and quarrelsome, but if that is all we ever were, we would, millenniums ago, have disappeared from the face of the earth. But the choice…of winning! And my life which is ending seems to be going on to an ending wonderful. And my music has a new last melody like a bird song in the night.”
I’m so thankful for a God who gives us the freedom to choose, moment by moment, where we will take our life. When I am weak and sick and quarrelsome, He sits with me and gently reminds me that I always have his strength to draw upon. So many times this year I’ve been faced with the chance to choose love and connection, or fear and isolation and only I could make the choice to pursue love. Many times I didn’t, but I think this is the first year where I chose courage more often than fear. May we all enter into 2015 boldly, knowing that we may choose to conquer evil and live great stories fitting for the glory of a human soul loved by God.