As many of us do, I spent some time at the end of 2021 looking back at my journal and calendar to remember what I learned, how I felt, and the connections I could see over the year. The pandemic required constant practical adjustment for all of us. I could see a thread through my journal entries that showed my consistent commitment to meditation and contemplation had made a difference in helping me maintain some equilibrium. I was filled with gratitude for those who journeyed, taught, and encouraged me on the contemplative path during the year.
There were also some bumps and sharp turns during 2021 that I didn’t handle as gracefully as I wished. A brief phrase from scripture came to mind as I pondered them.
God’s mercies are new every morning . . .
That fleeting thought kept me from dwelling too long on the not-so-great parts and gave me the courage to see them as learning moments. To move to the question of “what can I do differently?”
Last week, I searched out that important phrase and found it in Lamentations Chapter 3. The book of Lamentations is five chapters of poetic lament to God by the Jewish people. It was a way for them to express their grief over the destruction of Babylonian aggression and ask for help in the midst of it all. It’s striking that the phrase I remembered appears in three verses of hope from the middle of the book. Lament comes before and after it.
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,Lamentations 3:22-24a (The Message)
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
I’m taking a slower approach to discerning what I’m called to be and do in this new year, going gently into a year that still contains a vast amount of uncertainty. I’m carrying into this year both hope and lament. Hope for a growing trust and awareness of God’s presence and constant love. Hope that I can be present in my daily life and see opportunities for love. I’m giving myself permission to acknowledge all my feelings, even the sad and mad ones. To sit with all the emotions as they arise and look beneath them for the message they are trying to send me.
Both hope and lament have something to teach and can guide me as I choose to live a life of love.