The day after Christmas found me meandering (not power-walking) through Riverside Park, near my studio. The temperature had reached 60 degrees - a rarity in Michigan winters, and I jumped at the chance to be outside in the sunshine. In part, exercise was needed after a day of excessive eating, but mostly I needed to be outside for my spirit and my soul. I needed to soak in the sunlight and commune with God through nature.
There were remarkably few people on the beautiful day after Christmas. If the nightly news report that Mike and I watched the night before is correct, the majority of people (75% said the news anchor) were returning gifts. That seems a bit sad to me for some reason, but I have to admit I like having the park mostly to myself. The sunshine and solitude help me slow down, center myself and pray. No profound, earthshaking prayers…just quiet, contemplative prayers of “what next?” and “how do I get ready for that?”
After an hour’s stroll I return to the studio, have a cup of tea, and read for a while. I am reading Playing God, Redeeming the Gift of Power by Andy Crouch. A book that is quite thoughtful and giving me much to mull over. This slower pace of walking, drinking tea, and reading through the afternoon is a good reminder that life is to be enjoyed - not over scheduled and raced through from moment to moment.
The end of the year is often a time of reflection with a sometimes unrealistic expectation that “This year will be different!!” It might. It might not. Certainly it is good to reflect and create a plan to help achieve a goal or break a hurtful habit. Set a budget, invest in your skill set, use your time better, eat healthier…all good goals. Over the years I have set and achieved (or not achieved) many goals. But along the way I’ve learned to hold on a bit more loosely to the results and my expectations. Life has a way of zigging to the left when I was zagging to the right, but I’ve always ended up in pretty good places - eventually.
So I’ll slow down this week and do my best to think about and pray things through. I’ll talk things over with my artists' group that will get together this Saturday. We’ll talk about the joys and challenges of the holidays, pray for one another, encourage one another. We’ll talk about the upcoming year. There are irons in the fires, trips that are planned or to be planned, and ideas to sift through.
So ends another year.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.