We did it the way we do it a lot these days. New Year’s Eve – quietly. A pile of movies – sometimes a marathon, sometimes not. This time not – just some favorites that make you think and make you laugh and make you appreciate what you have. Sometime after dark, two new tiny, cheap, plastic cups – seventy percent off at Target – but still so sweet, and holding something sweeter still: the Asti we always manage to smuggle away for the one special night. Every clock in our house has a different time, but we guess midnight when the fireworks surge and go wild – and yes, one lone clock reads midnight. So we call it. And sweeter still, have a kiss or two to ring in the New Year.
Then crawling back under the new sort-of Christmas present down comforter to finish the movie. Pause. And a big sigh. Almost an expletive from both of us – wondering where did this year go? Where did the years go? We take a moment to reminisce, and my-oh-my, they seem to have flown. Has it really been almost ten years since the little one was born? Since we made that arduous trek back to the place I used to call home and then back to the place that really feels like home now? Yes it has.
If I look too closely, and with too critical of an eye – which I do. All the time. I might see just the lack – which I do. All the time. Too long at a job that made me crazy and actually started to hurt, really hurt physically. Too long without a job for both of us – at least the kind you’re supposed to have as a responsible grownup – the kind with security, benefits, and paid time off. Too much struggle, the kind that really wears and tears on a marriage and a family and makes some of them fall to the wayside. Don’t think I haven’t watched with bated breath as it happened around us – watched it hit house after house in our neighborhood, until I felt like the Israelites in Egypt on the night of the very first Passover – praying that if I spilled enough something, sacrificed enough something and put it over our doorway, that it would pass over us too. When you live with months and years of mounting losses – large and small – there are just some you know you can’t number and survive in whole.
But over the course of those months and years, I made other discoveries, too. I found my metaphor for this life I was living: desert wandering. And discovered God’s blessing and presence in the desert. Desert living streamlines you; focuses you; hones you. It prepares you for what’s coming next. The beginning of the next step was discovering One Thousand Gifts*. And Eucharisteo. And learning to give thanks in all things. And finding out that thanksgiving really does precede the miracle. And there were miracles – let me rephrase: there are miracles. Because our barrel of meal and cruse of oil – the promise we claimed almost three years ago – has not failed. It continues to provide. He provides. We are not in the lap of luxury by any stretch, but we have food, and our home, and Lord, thank you, even a “new” dryer when ours died out the Sunday before New Year’s Eve.
And now, another year. Thanksgiving preceding a miracle. Maybe. But I’m not focusing on that. I’m just working on being a day-by-day kind of woman. That’s one of my desert lessons. Enough is given just for one day. Time is parsed out for us in segments that we can manage: twenty-four hours at a time. More than that and we collect worry that we can’t manage. Trust me – I do that all the time too. Trying not to. In the same way that the Israelites were given their manna in the desert (enough for one day – but no more – or it would spoil) I am given blessings enough for one day. And tomorrow is an adventure waiting unto itself. Of course, I’m still a planner, and an organizer, and a dreamer. So I imagine other things unfolding this year: things I will write: consistent, contemplative musings here on my Three Bees; places I hope to go: I would like to see my family in the islands this year; things I will be able to do: walking – I imagine being able to go for long walks in the woods again. In their own way, each of these things, and my other secret dreams, would be miracles. And all are preceded by my counting thanks again. Working to find my one thousand things to be thankful for – from the silly to the sublime. And all leading back to another quiet kiss at midnight in 364 days.
* One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp