Six years ago I began a quiet tradition. Six December 31's I've listened to 'The Blues'. It's an old Switchfoot song- you can look it up if you'd like. Its verses and choruses are comprised of a lengthy string of questions, which I think is why I keep returning to its comfort.
I find myself at the begending (a word I probably invented to denote the clashing of old and new) again, weighed down with questions too. I fear today, the first of January, has become subject for the scoffers. 'Just another day full of empty promises to be better.' That's what the cynics might say, at least. Part of me says that too, but I stuff it down in rejection and instead try to make a big deal of expectant hope. We all want that, don't we?
I started choosing a word instead of a resolution three years ago, in a time and place I look back on with fondness. My friends do it too. Well, some of them. I like the purpose and the simplicity. I know I'll fall short of my word's intentions, but each year I'm propelled to press forward anyway.
For now I'll refrain from reflecting too much on 2016 because my mind's made a mess of it. What I do know is there were bright spots and good days amidst difficulty. It was thrilling curiosity and purposeful solitude, fervent prayer and looming confusion. It still is, partially.
Looking ahead, here's what I know: there are watchers and there are doers. I am the former and I, more than anything, do not want to be.
So my word for 2017 is heart: courage; the vital part or essence. To me, it sends Hope, always welcomed and needed. To have heart, I think too, is to be a doer. Passion not acted on is maybe not passion at all, and I more than anything want passion.
Heart was sparked by a verse, an excerpt, and some songs (I might share later). It is more than half of "take heart", words resting in my favorite piece of scripture: 13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27)
And this Thoreau quote from my twelfth grade English class; it has been rattling around in my pocket since we had to memorize it: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately..I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life."
That's all it is, really. Purpose and passion in our days. Heart.
And everyone has one, a heart. Everyone. It's the Great Equalizer, reminding gently that we all want love. Love is a term sometimes tossed around carelessly, and it's this great abstract solvent to our problems according to most notable people. But love is not concrete and it's not graspable or formulaic. It's perplexing, but I want to be a part of it and to give it away, whatever that looks like. I think it starts with doing. And fighting for the worst parking spot (cc: Bob Goff).
And so the song ends, 'is there any honest song to sing besides these blues?' I don't know, Jon. I keep hearing that 'everything is going to be alright', both said and sung. I trust it will be.
Here's to more heart. Welcome, 2017!