A New Year 2018
I wanted to write something like a Christmas letter I use to write, send out in the mail with postage on it but not like the ones of years gone by. It ended up sounding like one of the old ones so I scrapped it.
I over heard one of my adult children say to a friend at his sibling’s home, “Christmas for us is like a book exchange.” he said smiling. We do love our books and we enjoy giving them to one another. Just after the first of the year we made a trip to McKay’s one of our favorite used book stores to go to in TN. This year we initiated our new daughter in law.
I’m looking forward to reading my new books and I’ve already finished one that I purchased at McKay’s because of illness. It is my desire to do more reading in 2018. And I have freshened up my Goodreads, accepted the 2018 challenged, and been greatly encouraged by my family.
Let’s take the long way home: a memoir on friendship by Gail Caldwell is the book I just finished. There were no wow factors but much hope about intimacy and life and the great value of friendship. Especially, how desperately we need one another. I think if each of had just a small understanding of the fact that we need each other there would be a lot less hopelessness, loneliness, despair, and violence in our world. Giving in to the need will not erase our pain or remove our difficulties but will enable us to help one another to bear the load of them and more importantly it will knit our hearts together.
I also want to challenge myself to read a little more broadly. To read poetry. One of my daughters gave me a book of poems so I don’t even need to go researching, debating with myself, researching some more. Instead, I can just receive the gift given. In the course of the last 24 hours I was reminded that I have been reading poetry for the last 30 plus years since I do read the Bible. And yes, I will keep reading and re-reading that one.
It is definitely my preference to have a book in my hand, the kind made of paper, that will sit on a shelf, that I can stick in a bag, where I can write back to the author right on the page. Ben Franklin said, “Never read without a pen in your hand.”
[ In our time together, we all had great fun reading to our grandchildren. The love of books is being passed on to the next generation. ]
Listening is something that I am still learning to do with more intentionality, especially over the last 5 years or so. It is important – vital to communicating with another human being. I think I have a better chance at understanding, empathizing, and paying attention to what the other person has said by learning how to be an active listener.
Active listening is what is needed to do the hard work of being in relationship. This past year, I have had to learn to listen in a whole new way to someone who is losing their cognitive abilities one day at a time. To strategically learn how to listen to the same question over and over, answer it as if it is the first time it is being asked and come up with new ways of answering, to keep things fresh. Also, to listen to the tone of the question and try to figure out what my elderly mother needs. It is tiring but I am learning….in a way I never would have chosen.
Active listening is a way to show love. It is done with a desire to really hear what the other person is saying. It is not waiting for the other person to be done so that I can get my 2 cents or 50 bucks in. Each of us wants to be heard. Dare I say each of us needs to be heard. When I am attuned to where I am and whom I am with, I have a better chance of being able to hear what the other person is saying, not just with their words but their tone and body language.
Another thing that I have been thinking about is how people view and experience God. There is a saying, “God created man in his own image and man has been returning the favor ever since.” I don’t think that God has changed or that we can actually create our own God. I think that is called idolatry. 😉 I believe He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (And God is Spirit, so I don’t get hung up on the “he” pronoun.) People grow, change, evolve, mature, decay and depending on their vantage point is how they will perceive God. It doesn’t make it wrong if we disagree. Lately, I have either read or listened to people talk about the certainty of those who have a certain perception of God and the arrogance of that unwavering rightness. There is no room left for mystery, almost putting themselves on equal footing with God. Yeah, I went through that zealous phase.
God is bigger than the elephant, as in the parable of the six blind men and the elephant. The point being that I only see through the glass dimly. If I could declare this is who God is without any doubt would there be any room for faith? Never mind mystery. The older I get the more I am humbled by many things including my thoughts on God. I have much to learn from those whose beliefs about God are different from mine. If all truth is God’s truth, then don’t my fellow image bearers deserve a fair hearing?
Some of my sisters and brothers may say, Jesus is God, it is pretty plain who God is because Jesus is the exact representation of the Father. That is true but even that we take on faith because it is the written Word. We don’t have any footage of Jesus. He lived over 2000 years ago. I trust Him but I know that He is so much than I can imagine. I am banking on Jesus through the work of the Spirit not on my intellect.
I hope your year is off to a good start.