Pretty Good Year

It’s the day before Christmas Eve, and I’m sitting in my cluttered living room while rain lashes the bushes outside against the glossy, wet windows. Fireplace aglow, presents in a glittery heap, a half knitted sock (that I’ve been working on for a few years, which loses its needles every time I put it away), the book I just finished lies exhaling next to me on the couch.

I’ve started so many posts in the last few months, some of them getting no farther than an intriguing title. There’s plenty to say (always), but how much of it needs to be said here? As 2015 comes to a close, it feels right to make some account for myself, so here is a list of the main events:

January: came to Lynden to work with Rise Campaign.
This was the best start to a new year, though I didn’t know it at the time. Staying connected to YWAM in this low-pressure way, working with kind and passionate people who champion me despite my sometimes excessive lack of productivity… this is the reason I’ve been able to leave survival mode and start tackling the world again…

February: I stepped on a scale.
I was shocked to find I weighed the same as I’d weighed at 9 months pregnant. No bueno. But because of that shock, some prayer and some help from my sister (and an app on my phone), I’ve lost 60lbs since then. Lots of riding my bike, eating chicken and treating treats like treats.
Read: Lilith by George MacDonald (which I adored), The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (which I didn’t love so much).

March: I started working at a coffee shop/used book store.
Downtown Lynden! What a bustling place it is not. The owners of the store have been very generous to me, and I now have a red bike to ride. I’ve also got enough books to last if for some reason I am trapped in my apartment for several years in a row.
Read: (partial) The Gospel According to Moses by Athol Dickson and loving it, but have yet to finish.

May: I moved!
After much freaking out, God provided a beautiful little apartment down a long country road. It has a fireplace, and rain lashes the windows. Living here I have learned about how noisy the night can be out in the country (donkeys and coyotes, mostly, but one night it was some crazy drunk cows). I’ve made friends with my landlord’s dog, Buck, who comes over regularly to play and be scratched. I’ve photographed countless foggy mornings.
Read: The Hunger Games trilogy by Susanne Collins (mind blowing… not teenage fluff), and Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (the title drew me in, but the book itself, though well written, is too disturbing).

June-July: Descent into madness!
Well, maybe not madness, but certainly I spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts, alone in the stifling heat of summer, on my living room rug. In retrospect, I see good purpose in those months, but at the time it was lonely and hard.
Read: A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (beautiful!!) and Philippians by the Apostle Paul (necessary).

August: Thailand!
Along with just the right co-leader, I led the last two weeks of a DTS outreach in Hua Hin, Thailand. It’s a long story, but a good one. Most personally, the trip brought me out of my head and into the dynamic reality of discipleship. And Thailand! Beautiful, sweaty, dignified, smiling Thailand. For the first time I could imagine myself living well in a foreign country. The trip also gave me a ton of motivation for starting school because it reminded me why I want to be a teacher: I love working with young adults.
Read: half of several books, and Philippians several more times.

September-December: School.
Wow. A freshman at 37. I never expected that. I learned actual things in my classes. I found a routine, finished all my homework, wrote several essays and started writing poetry again (connected to college by digressions from what I was learning and reading for class).
Read: too many things to list here, although I will say that for Christmas break I decided to read The Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit, and The Martian by Andy Weir and neither has disappointed me.

That’s the year in a nutshell. In several ways, I’ve been given a lot (stuff-wise, emotional support-wise, inspiration-wise, adventure-wise) but in other ways, there is much less of me, much more lost than pounds from the scale. I’m no longer sure of very many things, but I’m also no longer scared of being lost and alone. God is here and deftly organizing all demolition work. In fact, it makes this post ridiculously long, but I think I’ll share the poem I’ve been working on about that very thing. It might not be finished, but I’ll probably adjust it here as it morphs.

Your comments are always welcome. Merry Christmas, dear friends.

I’m getting used to outer space, used to the darkness
and the cold, used to the horrible lack of air.
In this way I can relate to the dead
Though I’m not dead but in limbo, liminal.
Waiting, bouncing like a fly against a window
which is battered by December wind.

God speaks in little gusts, the only way I breathe
while sipping other wandering thoughts.
He mouths, everyone who loves you is me,
they are loving me for you, you for me.
No scolding, or scowls, no crushing blows, just
oxygenated glances, and one
lucidly dreamt embrace.

I ache to write resolve here, write
and hang onto its strength, to say
I know what’s conveyed by this and by those, I know
what is missing, I know what I mean.
But it falters here, where the words need more air
they want to be under the oxygen tent.
I’m not there, not yet, not able to go home
buoyed outward, and unable to speak.

In the vastness of stars externally infinite,
overbearing omniscience still making no sense, I hear you.
Yesterday you said, It’s okay to love,
it’s okay. Even when you give your heart away. But
I gave my soul, I gave too much,
you said, How can you? Did I?
Probably, I said. You probably shouldn’t have come at all,
knowing that we’d kill you, and then brag that
you’d made us in vain.

The upside to being nowhere and cold is
the quiet, which used to rage into me like violence,
now it carries me from shock to shock
with kindness. Can you hear me?
Sometimes it doesn’t matter and I let myself go- endless
summersaults, dry as a bone and spinning
laughing at the questions and the very serious
dissertation cycles of my childhood.
Everyone who loves you is me, you said, they
are loving me for you, you for me.

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