My friend Beth is an artist. She gifts so many of us with what her heart/mind sees, somehow faithfully capturing those same images in her pictures. This picture was her Facebook post on Friday. Not sure what her heart held, but this picture spoke deeply to me.
Winter months have come to be my hardest . Although winter holds many places of celebrations - February is even my birthday month, for goodness sakes. Not to mention winter holding Christmas and New Years and Epiphany and Valentine’s and St Pat’s Day. AND yet, and yet it’s my hardest season. It’s always been like that for me. Growing up in Central Illinois, the winters took so dang long. And even living here in Atlanta, I’m cranky every time I have to pull on my gloves and scarf. Don’t get me wrong; winter holds beauty like no other. I am grateful each year to see the trees without the leaves - being able to see each one particularly. I love winter sunsets and sunrises. I love the clarity of the stars on a winter night. There’s something holy about actually seeing my breath. But winter, each year, seems to be hard on me.
I just don’t like feeling cold – physically or emotionally. Cold gets inside my bones and lives there too long. Cold keeps my shoulders and my spirit scrunching in. And when I’m doing that – I’m not much good to anybody, not much good for anybody. Especially me.
Beth’s Friday-picture somehow reminds me of hope living in the midst of winter. With those chairs, I can see myself – with somebody or -bodies. We’re sipping something fine and talking about what was, is and what just may be. We’re sitting and listening for one another, as we listen to the water close by. Just over a little bit away the water is moving – not stuck, not frozen but moving. Splashing and gurgling. We can hear the water singing her old, familiar melody reminding our hearts, “this too shall pass.” And even if these chairs are here just for me and no living human is with me, in her picture I feel the companioning that is here. Birds and squirrels. Ancestors remembered. Hope sits here when I enter into Beth's picture.
Thank you, Beth. Thank you for your heart and mind and artist’s eye. Thank you for this picture – and for reminding me today: it just takes a nudge to move on. With a friend’s picture, a friend’s laugh or hug – when we are open to see – we can be reminded at all the best times that hope is always with us. Sometimes it's sitting right there beside us.
Building walls. Building bridges. These acts happen all the time. Everyday in our hustling and bustling in and through these minutes and hours of our lives, we are so often spending our energy and time building one or the other. Intentionally and unintentionally. Through our actions and our words, we create space for folks, ideas, practices to come closer and cross over toward them or we build walls to keep others out.
It's funny how each act starts with the same motion. Whether we are building a wall or a bridge, we start by leaning over and picking up a stone or brick. Each task starts with the bending over and beginning. What happens next makes all the difference.
As 2016 begins, we are mindful again of our opportunity for starting again, starting over. What was was. What is is. And it's up to us. It's up to you and me. The time couldn't be more important than it is now. The need for being mindful, intentional, thoughtful has never been greater. With all our technology, we seem to only be propelling ourselves faster through our days, our lives. With instantaneous news, we barely have time to react, rarely time to absorb, rarely time to let our hearts catch up.
Walls. Bridges. Bridges. Walls. We do both all the time, and experience them as well – and our lives follow our intentions. Throughout our lives we are wall-builders as well as bridge-builders. When our intentions are about bridge-building, then we our looking out, looking toward, looking one another in the eye. When our intentions are about building walls, our end goal is separation. When we become focused on how strong and how high our walls are built, our lives follow suit. When we wonder and imagine "how can I get from here to there?" then our path is set before us. Then we are moving toward, beyond ourselves.
May 2016 be a time for more bridges for all of us. May it be a time when we look toward one another more. May our first intention be to meet one another halfway, or more than halfway. It comes down to that - you and me - and our first action.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.