Contemplating a Year of Growth

The first day of a new calendar is a good day for looking forward. It is often a day when I put up the wall calendar and survey all the landmarks ahead. Sometimes it was a day of calculation as I tried to estimate when our lives will be busy and when they will be calm. Even when I am not scanning and planning, I often find myself focusing my intentions for the new year, feeling what is to come. I’m convinced that such focused attention at the beginning of a year, has a long term effect on what comes after. There have been years where I shook the old year off and vowed that the coming year would be different in specific ways. And it was, because my intention shaped my goals and my goals shaped the year.

This year I’m thinking a lot about something I read in Naomi Remen’s book My Grandfather’s Blessings. She wrote an essay about her grandfather and how he often frustrated her because when asked to plan anything, even so small a thing as a lunch appointment, he would answer with “God willing.” The implication was that all our lives are in God’s hands and who knows what would happen between now and next Wednesday to change the possibilities around going to lunch. I’m not so resigned or so faithful that I can put all my life into God’s hands. I have a calendar. I’ve written lots of appointments on it. In ink. Yet the longer I live the more I see that I can not predict and plan everything, even if I would like to. I can not prevent all the things that scare me. I can not guarantee that I’ll gain my desires. So many things that I care about deeply are not in my control. I spent a long time trying to steer my life through sheer force of will. I got very tired. Now I think I am more ready to say “God willing” so long as I combine it with concrete goals. I can write words and trust that I will find good uses for those words whether it is sale to a publisher or healing my own heart. I can teach my children and pray that they will find their own good paths. I can love my husband and trust that he is strong.

I have hopes for this new year. I would like to have a quieter year with less travel and disruption. Yet, as much as I would like peace and calmness, I feel like there is growing to be done and growing is often a difficult process. I want that growth, because I can see how much better things are now than they were. I’m willing to go through some more difficult things if I can say the same at the end of this year. So instead of declaring what kind of a year I want it to be, instead of trying to enforce calmness and peace, I will instead try to accept each challenge and joy as it comes. 2013 will be a good year, God willing.