It was the morning after Christmas before the sun rose, and, as is my habit, I had been reading. Nothing of note as I was giving my brain a rest after a full week. As the sun rose over the bluffs, I found myself in a pondering mood. It isn’t unusual for me after Christmas to turn my thoughts toward reflection and planning. This particular morning I was thankful for this early-morning routine that opened a door to watching the sun rise because it gave pause to consider where light and life is in my world and maybe where I wanted to see more. I found my mind turning toward companionship and love.
It is no secret that I have the best friends, they are life and light in my world and often they are what sustain me when I am sure I can’t go another step. They are the kind of friends who encourage and challenge, laugh and cry with me. They pray for me, they listen to my crazy ideas and help me find ways to make them come to fruition. For all that they are however, I never thought I would be 46 and never married.
When I was younger all I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother. As I grew older and my horizons expanded, these two things were still at the heart of who I wanted to be. When I entered seminary, I told God that I better find a husband, too, ‘cause there was no way I could do this stuff on my own. God did not deliver in the ways I expected, and I must have been more self-aware than I knew because there have been times when I have not been able to do it all. There is something about that life-partner that transcends a friendship, at least that is the perception from this side of the fence, that makes life a little easier to live. So my question that early second day of Christmas was about what I wanted in a relationship and if I wanted to try to enter the dating pool again. Which, can I say, is rather terrifying and daunting. A beginning that comes with lots of expectations and nervous energy. Not to mention, whomever catches my eye has a lot to live up to because have I mentioned I have the best friends?
Companionship and connection have long been themes, for the lack of a better word, of my study and my own self-work. Being single and childless in this world is not easy; it takes extra work to find ways to connect with people, to seek commonalities, to engage in conversation around topics of interest, to attend events that sometimes make you feel even more alone than before. It can be exhausting, and some days, some days I wish I could turn off my heart and brain for just a little bit. Through it all, what I know to be true is that we are each hard-wired for connection, and we will find that connection in surprising ways if we are open.
And I am not alone in my quest. I have found, as I talk with people on my visits for the capital campaign. that people desire more meaningful connection, especially within their faith community. So what is it that keeps us from building deeper connection? I think it may be similar to my own hesitations about dating. It requires work that can often be exhausting and terrifying. For most of us, what we know and experience now is pretty good, so why mess with a good thing? And yet there is more to be had—more love, more grace, more joy, when we gather in community.
Here we are, at the beginning of a new year, a logical and beautiful moment to consider beginnings, connections, possibilities for light and life. The poet and author, Ted Loder, writes in his prayer poem the following:
God of history and my heart, so much has happened to me during these whirlwind days…
You know my frail heart and my frayed history—and soon another day begins.
O God, help me believe in beginnings and in my beginning again, no matter how often I’ve failed before.
Help me to make beginnings…
Help me to be a beginning for others…
Help me to believe in beginnings, to make a beginning, to be a beginning
So that I may not just grow old, but grow new each day of this wild amazing life you call me to live with the passion of Jesus Christ. Amen.
For full text go to 1stlu.org/TedLoder
I don’t know if I will start dating again this year, I am still pondering and working up the courage. What I do know is that I will be seeking more connections, to make beginnings, to trust my frail heart and frayed history to God. Wondering and hoping and trusting that the Spirit will guide me and provide for me what I need. What beginnings are waiting for you in this new year?