Since I was a teenager, I’ve kept a year end list of reflections on the year gone by. I have to say I’m kind of addicted to doing this. The routine, starting with the opening phrase of this blog title, is so ingrained in me that the new year just doesn’t feel right if I don’t look back. As author David Sedaris said of journals, “It’s an awful lot of work for something no one is ever going to see”, but still I forge on. For better or worse, it’s a habit I stick with.
I’ve noticed that the events in my bulleted list have changed over the years, leaning more towards just seeing the blessings and leaving out the difficulties. My sister Lorie and I used to have a year-end conversation of the “3 best and 3 worst events”. After a while, I stopped seeing the relevance of the 3 worst things. In my experience, difficult events or situations have lessons and blessings that are often the most meaningful and somehow part of the “best”.
Over the Christmas break, I dedicated a day as usual to sift through old e-mails, pictures, books I’ve read and blogs I wrote. The exercise left me grateful for every part of my life. Rachel Naomi Remen, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom, says that “It’s possible to have a meaningful life even if it isn’t an easy life.” Mine is abundant in meaning, faithful friendships and blessings that keep me grounded. So here’s the blessings of 2013.
2013 was the year that…
- Trip to Minneapolis – In May, Lyle and I took a weekend trip to Minneapolis to see a play adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ brilliant book The Screwtape Letters. Not only was the weekend very fun together, but the play was also so worth seeing. We got to meet our hero Max McLean (producer of the play) after the show. We also attended the church of a preacher whose books have come to influence us both, Greg Boyd at Woodland Hills Church. Despite having a cold that weekend, we were both so glad we went.
- Passing of a friend – Very sadly, my dear cousin Evy passed away in July after battling cancer. She was an epically fun cousin to grow up with, but it was the meaningful way she died that will always be a legacy to me. She would much rather have lived, but she and her husband Jerry leaned into trusting God in difficult circumstances. She embodied the bible verse, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 Rest in peace, dear friend.
- Watershed Community – The community life, studies and worship of our small house church of Watershed continues to be the most abiding blessing of my life. I don’t know where I’d be without everyone’s encouragement and continual pointing to see God in my day. Whether it’s celebrating birthdays, singing, laughing, telling and listening to stories, doing stuff together, movie night, studying scripture and great books, worshiping together, or praying for and with each other daily, we are all the richer for our life together.
- Adventures in Blogland – I finished my 3rd year of blogging. I am grateful for each person who took the time to read my scribbles and listen to my deeper heart, but I’m even more grateful for how it recharges my batteries . I have never walked away from the question of my blog without an answer, and this can only be attributed to God’s incredible mercy and endless creativity. The more I look, the more I see and I hope my awareness continues to grow.
- Books – Why is reading so calming? I suspect it’s because we turn our attention to something completely outside of our day to day experiences. As some wise person said, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” In my own quirky academy awards ceremony, I annually give out two awards: Best fiction of the year was Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and best non-fiction was Greg Boyd’s book Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now.
- Musical highlights – One of the gifts my parents and my Mennonite upbringing nurtured in me was a love of music. I’m convinced it is a way of praying. I’m so blessed to have two friends, Marilyn and Eldon, who practice new and old songs with me for our Sunday worship and other occasions. Musical highlights last year were singing with the seniors at Lion’s Manor, and preparing songs for some special events like our fall retreat, a 50th birthday party, our “Hanukkah for Christians” celebration with dear friends Arthur and Debbie, and who can beat a rowdy sing-a-long of “How Much is that Doggie in the Window” for our Christmas Eve party?
- Proud of our son – I’m eternally grateful for our son Joel and how he is finding his way in life. 2013 was a year of milestones for him – he moved out, and got his B.A. in german studies from University of Winnipeg (with a gold medal to boot). He is finding what gives him joy (all things botanical) and finding ways to express that through his creative and inexhaustible website at http://www.momentaryvitality.ca. Not only that, but surprisingly he is finding that he enjoys teaching and working with kids. He even works at the community centre connected to my school, and we love talking about students we know in common. I’m super proud of him and very, very grateful for the friendship Lyle and I continue to have with him. I’m also very glad that he remains open to a life of faith and learning in our community.