Not many people are writing pieces with this title. "Good Riddance 2016" is more like it, and I might very well say the same if all I had to contemplate in the waning days of this year was the state of our country and the world. I care deeply about both, but for my own sanity's sake, I need a different focus.
For us at 67 East Main, this was our first full year in our Hornell home. We are happy here, John's ongoing exception to temperatures below 60 degrees notwithstanding. We are all of us healthy, the dog and the cat inclusive.
I am grateful for a relatively stable year in regards to my mental health. Being "disability retired" has certainly been a Godsend in giving me the time and space I need to keep centered. Off and on through the year I have felt some urgency about "what's next," although at year's end I am much more relaxed about it. I am certain I cannot go back to the work I was doing, being a full-time parish priest. That saddens me. I never thought it would happen. But I have mostly come to terms with the truth in it. 2017 will be interesting in terms of how my life continues to unfold.
I am especially grateful for the time spent with family this past year. I think I missed only two or three sports events in which our nephews participated. Watching them play, and play well, has been, and continues to be, a joy. Most Wednesdays I join our "family lunch," which includes my parents, my great aunt Ann, and various other aunts and uncles and friends who pop in.
I have also enjoyed the little opportunities to exercise my priestly muscles, filling in on Sundays for various Southern Tier clergy and teaching some at St. Thomas', Bath, which is our home base. It is good to be back in that space and that community, which nurtured me into the Episcopal Church some 35 years ago now.
As to the theme of this blog, what new glory have I been changed into this past year? It is the glory of being more assured than I have ever been that I am loved for who I am and not for what I have accomplished. Anyone who knows me, knows that this transition has not been an easy one, and no one will be surprised that it is an ongoing project (see, I can even turn being loved into something which I must accomplish!).
At year's end, I got a new tattoo (yes, I already had one). It happened that my tattoo-artist nephew, Rob, got my name for Christmas, and I asked for a new tattoo. The image is to your right. Some may wonder if it catches me in despair, but what it actually proclaims is that I am not giving up seeking and being found. Two pieces of scripture inspired the choice: First, Psalm 130, "Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord; Lord hear my voice; let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication." Second, the moment after the "prodigal son" hits bottom and knows he must seek home anew, that his story is not to end in a stinking pig sty.
Hope is not cheaply bought. It is elusive, and many other things come disguised as it. Of one thing I am sure, and that it is born in the depths, and perhaps that is the glory into which I am trying to grow as this old year gives way to the new.