Thursday, December 06, 2018

Spiritual Journey First Thursday: Reflections on OLW

It's December already, and it's time to reflect on the OLW chosen a year ago for 2018. Mine this year was ENOUGH.

Every once in a while as a teacher, you're asked to tell when a skill should be mastered, when it's been taught sufficiently that it's now second nature. You can be sure that your students know it. You can check it off your list. To me this has always seemed like a pointless exercise. The "skills" we teach in the English department are more art than science. Sure, we've taught commas, but is there a point when you will never make a comma error? Even professional authors need editors to correct their comma use. (I can think of one whose every blog post, presumably not edited by someone who does that for a living, is filled with comma splices; that author's published work has not a comma splice in sight.) And then there's the fact that sometimes it's a matter of preference. I might put a comma there and you might not, and neither one of us would be wrong.

You can probably see where I'm going with this. I want to be able to look back on this year and say, "Yup, I've got that down. Now I am always contented, never worried; I know that this day's provision, material and emotional and spiritual, will be ENOUGH, and I rest in that knowledge." But I can't say that. It's a daily struggle, a daily decision.

C.S. Lewis wrote: "Relying on God has to begin again all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done." I'm grateful for authors like Lewis, Nouwen, Buechner, who write from experience, from trial and error on the spiritual road, and who remind me that the challenges I face are not mine alone. When I feel as though there isn't enough love in the whole world for me to feel completely loved, for example, Nouwen's writing shows me that he often felt the same. Just keep going, he tells me. Don't give up. When I doubt and wonder if it's even worth it at all, Buechner's writing shows me that I'm not alone in that either. Just keep going. Don't give up.

(And yes, I'm aware of the irony of evaluating myself on how well I've done with the word ENOUGH, as though my pursuit of ENOUGH hasn't been ENOUGH. ENOUGH of all of this inner turmoil, please!)

Of course, it's about the process, the journey, the daily and hourly choices, the hesitating over the sentence to decide whether or not to put a comma right there, right now. I know that.

When I look back over this year, I know that the process mattered, the journey mattered, every mile mattered. I showed up, and I tried to love well, and I did my best. It was enough. Right?

Every Mile Mattered
Nichole Nordeman

Spread the map on the table, with the coffee stain
Put your finger on the places, show me where you've been
Is that California, where your teardrops dried?
You drew a circle round Georgia, can you tell me why?

I see shoulda beens, coulda beens
Written all over your face,
Wrong turns and bridges burned,
Things you wanna change

It's history
You can't rewrite it
You're not meant to be trapped inside it
Every tear brought you here
Every sorrow gathered
Yeah, it's history
And every mile mattered

Get the box off the top shelf, with the black and white
Snapshots of your old self, in a better light
Ghosts and regrets back again, I can see it in your eyes
Send them home, let 'em go
Don't you think it's time?

It's history
you can't rewrite it 
You're not meant to be trapped inside it
Every tear brought you here
Every sorrow gathered
It's history
And every mile

And every road and every bend
Every bruise and bitter end
All you squandered, all you spent
It mattered, it mattered
Mercy always finds a way
To wrap your blisters up in grace
And every highway you'd erase
It mattered, it mattered

But it's history
It don't define you
You're free to leave
It all behind you
Every tear brought you here
Every sorrow gathered
It's history
And every mile mattered
Every mile mattered 

Tune in on the first Thursday in January for my 2019 OLW.

The Incomparable Irene is rounding up the SJFT posts today. Check out what other people posted!


Irene Latham said...

Dear Ruth, I love this post! Enough-ness is always on my list as well, and I love how you guide us to see this as a daily decision. And your encouragement to just keep going... well, I needed that today! Thank you, dear friend! And big big smiles over you attaching that big I-word to my name! LOL xo

Violet N. said...

Wonderful reflections on ENOUGH! I especially like the thought that conquering the challenge of enough is a "daily decision." So many things are that--decisions, that need to be made over and over again.

Unknown said...

Just keep going. Don't give up. What a wonderful mantra, Ruth. Enough - Is it ever enough? Do we need a constant reminder that enough is a never-ending journey? Your post led me to reflect and then you added the song by one of my favorite singers. I posted late into the wee hours of this morning.

Ramona said...

Your post reminded me that so much of what we do is a daily challenge. Thanks for your perfect response,"Just keep going. Don't give up." And the song you included was new for me. Love these words from the lyrics: "...Mercy always finds a way, To wrap your blisters up in grace..."