As I sit here, looking out at the snow blowing around outside, recovering from the flu and thankful for the stillness and warmth, and reflecting on the past year, I find myself filled with tears of gratitude. 2018 was far from an easy year, filled with major losses, injustice and huge transitions (both on a personal level and in our world at large), yet I am thankful as this year draws to a close.
A huge part of this gratitude is for the place and the people I have landed amongst. The natural beauty of the sky and trees and seasons, the generosity of neighbors, the joy of the Sisters I work for, the ever deepening sense of home, the love of friends, the warm snuggles of a couple of four legged companions…. All is showing me new ways to be in community, especially on a more balanced giving/receiving scale. After so many years of being one who has given more than receiving, receiving can make me feel a little squirmy, but today as my young neighbor ploughed my driveway, I just felt thankful. And as a friend picked up some groceries for me earlier this week when I was too sick to move, I felt the love and gratitude without the guilt. And I think of the many, many times my 90 year old neighbor has given me produce or cakes or just popped over to check how I am if she hasn’t seen me for a couple of days. I think I like this small town living!
Another huge part is the monastic community I am a part of. I feel deepening relationships within the community, and with God at the center of us. Following the Rule of St. Benedict in the modern world, being both a part of the cultural norms, and living counter to those norms that don’t reflect a way of Love and Peace and acceptance and hope. When I sit and read news, this can feel like an uphill battle, but when I sit and pray with my community, these prayers that join us together with so many others who are praying around the world in their own way, the connections become tangible and hope is touched again. And several of us in the community are in discussions around our calling to become fully professed members of it, deepening our commitment and offering our lives more fully to the Benedictine way of life. I think I like this community living!
So as I move into 2019, I am going to carry this balancing act there…. receiving and giving. Both are vital, and both are humbling in their own way. And (I think I’m finally coming to appreciate this), both are necessary for a good life, a life that has more stability and groundedness. A life that is more vulnerable, and more full of trust. A life that is willing to be in this broken world, and to live in ways to counter it. A life that I can be grateful for!
What are you taking into the new year?