Suzanne Bossert

Trail of Glory

Peeling off the sheets of last year's kitchen calendar feels like pulling off furniture coverings at a beach house reopening for spring. Even in the dead teeth of winter, I feel suddenly sunny as I marvel at the clean, blank expanse of 2015...

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New day, new month, new year.  

Peeling off the sheets of last year’s kitchen calendar feels like pulling off furniture coverings at a beach house reopening for spring. Even in the dead teeth of winter, I feel suddenly sunny as I marvel at the clean, blank expanse of 2015. Empty days, o bliss! Glancing down at the crumple of papers in my hand, I shudder at the chicken-scratch scribble of December days choked and overrun by too many events, tasks, reminders, and commitments. The blank space of now feels liberating, not boring, which itself feels vaguely disconcerting. Am I–the eternal extrovert–descending finally into a resigned burrowing-in, a withdrawal wrought by advancing age? Are the blank January days like little white flags of surrender, an acceptance of the small pleasures of the unextended life?

In fact, as this new year begins, the blankness feels like just another manifestation of the dune-like expanse of the wilderness which has been my home now for so many months. How embarrassing to still be in the midst of Nowheresville. Like a home improvement project gone awry, I have been taken down to the “studs,” followed by little visible progress of rebuilding. Am I an abandoned construction project, at the mercy of an absentee construction crew? The blueprints of possibility, once so exciting, now feel like a chimera. I am reduced to simply hoping now for a better tarp overhead to keep out bad weather. 

It’s hard to wait, isn’t it? For a better “us”…..whatever than means. Sometimes we seem to wait in vain……….for a new job, a better school, lost pounds, or an awaited soul mate. Maybe we are waiting for better lab results, a longed-for pregnancy, or grief to loosen its f*ing grip. Every January, our culture taunts us with New Year expectations to make quicker progress in ascending to our ideal selves. Apparently, patience in the daily construction of what it means to be a human is a prime manifestation of faith. Do what we must, chip away at what we can, accept what is beyond our hammer and nails.

I have friends who bought a vacation home at the start of their marriage, a ramshackle cottage in need of a complete overhaul. With great enthusiasm at the start, they worked with architects and builders to create an exciting blueprint for renovation. The early work went very fast……the tearing down of the old house, with a grand new scaffolding arising from the pile of rubble. But then a curious thing happened: when it came time to actually flesh out the frame with sheet rock and tile, electrical wiring and fixtures, my friends became paralyzed with indecision. Months turned into years, and still the house remains unfinished. Rather than risk living into their future, the beautifully-framed dream house is a hollow skeleton, an unfinished idea. 

Sounds familiar. Sometimes our dreams are right within our grasp yet we cannot leave the safety of the status quo to step into what we want. It’s as if we do not believe we deserve all that is possible.

The future is always headed our way. Sometimes it opens before us as a bright shining path, and whether through grace or good timing, we are able to effortlessly step into what’s next. Other times we see the guideposts heartily pointing the way, but we falter, remaining stuck in wilderness wanting. In this new year, perhaps we can at least vow to remember one thing. As we live under the gaping holes of our half-constructed dreams, may we never lose sight of the nocturnal sheltering sky, in which God’s presence burns as steadfastly as the North Star, inscrutable but always glowing with an ethereal light.  God is with us even when we feel like we can’t see a damn thing, not even our hands stretched out blindly in longing before us. At the precipice of this new year, let us yield to this God of the gloaming, saying:

Make of me a twilight; wake of color, trail of glory.

In the evening of life transform me into a song of gratitude… 

Make me your holy darkness, your blessed night. 

Fashion me into one who sees with the eyes of the soul. 

Make of me your night prayer.

-Macrina Wiederkehr

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