After Christmas I take a walk down to the shore at my grandmother’s house. The sun is just rising above the clouds making ribbons of pink and orange dance on the still morning water. The air is bitter cold, and my fingers quickly cramp as I try to snap just the right photo for my Instagram. The coffee in my mug loses all heat instantly. There isn’t a sound to be heard, save for the birds chirping in the trees. It’s strange to hear these sounds I usually associate with summer in the middle of winter. I guess I just haven’t been listening…
The quiet is deafening. I think that’s why I reach for my phone so quickly. There’s something intimidating about this kind of deep, surrounding, silence. There’s nothing to distract me from myself, from all those worries and doubts and fears that live inside of me.
Here, at the water’s edge, it’s just the sun and I. And she’s not looking to give me any answers.
What do I really believe? About myself, about my life, about God? You have to face these questions when everything gets quiet, and sometimes I don’t want to face them. I want to be back at the top of the hill in a nice warm house, where there are voices other than my own, where I can stay in my comfortable box of things I am certain of.
But I read something by Anne Lamott recently that is helping me reorient my heart for this year. She writes, “Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”
As I stand on the dock and accept the discomfort of the silence, and resist the pull to run away from it, I feel strong. And I think, this is how I want to enter the next year. To go forward in uncertainty, to go forward even with doubt.
I can have faith even when I don’t know. Even when I am unsure of myself, my abilities, my purpose, my place…even when I am unsure of God. Faith is bigger than my uncertainty.Tweet
My job is to notice the discomfort of being unsure, to notice the emptiness and the mess of self-doubt and frustration that exist inside of me, and to let it be there. Stop running from these things, Andrea! This is life, this is all part of life. We can’t only have the good. We can’t only have the pleasant. We can’t only have the companionship and the laughter and the heart full of faith. We can’t only live in joy. We can’t only live in certainty.
I am here to learn how to hold it all in my hands, letting the dark be there until the light returns.
While a friend and I chat over teas today, I tell her one of my favourite writing quotes by E.L. Doctorow: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
Hmm, sounds a lot like life too, she says.
And I think she’s right.
Happy New Year, dear reader.
2020 has her arms open wide, inviting us into a brand new adventure. Here we go!