4:30 am. Darkness.
I wake up with questions. Questions I know will become prayers that pave the path of my journey. The quality of the questions, I know now, determines so much of the experience.
I've struggled with new beginnings.
Do I need to recite every catalyst, big and small, like it's own form of prayer, rubbing the mala beads smooth as I mutter under my breath? Is it necessary to mark the countless ways life has held out her hand and asked me to dance and I've either abandoned myself to the dance floor or (most often) I've pulled back, clinging to the wall -- desperately wishing for a song I know by heart.
Change is the most constant companion I've known, outside of the skin I live in. I haven't been a gracious companion to change, as I mentioned. I've wanted solid ground, asked for life to stay fixed in one spot -- you know the one. That one day where your jeans fit perfectly, everyone you care about loves you, your business is prosperous and meaningful, your energy is up, the weather is just the way you like it, your children are at 'that magical age' and you and your beloved are at your unmessy best with each other. And, of course, your hair is perfect.
Hold it. That's it. Just the way I want it.
I have such compassion for this desire to arrange life just so. It reminds me of the way my daughter and her friends used to set up the Playmobil sets and beg and plead, "Please can we leave it set up? It's perfect just the way it is!" Inevitably a little brother or an animal or parental impatience with small plastic figurines would intervene and the perfectly arranged scene would go back in the box, in a jumble, while my daughter would wail in protest.
This urge is adorable and confounding.
"Honey, you can set it up again.... why don't you PLAY with it?" and her perfect response, "It won't be the same, " and, "I don't want to mess it up!" I would cluck and nod (I know it's hard honey) and then assure her it would be just as good next time as I scooped her up and kissed her tear-stained cheeks.
I was staring in a small, curly-haired, olive-complected mirror and I barely saw the reflection in that moment, but hindsight is so clear, isn't it? Moving my fingers over the beads, I've completed my prayers honoring the past. Heart open, the hand of change catches mine, again and again as I look to the future.
New beginnings start in darkness
Birth of babies, birth of plants, animals, birth of new projects, ideas, lives, communities, eco-systems and nations. From the personal to the collective, beginnings have their roots in darkness. I am in awe of how a seed, frozen into the cold winter earth, surrounded by dark soil, follows instinct and (as a human I imagine) faith, to sprout and shoot in the right direction -- toward the sun, toward warmth, toward life above ground. Toward fruition.
We, as humans, we have that same instinct to move in the right direction, toward the growth that is ours to live into -- whether we choose the circumstance or whether it's chosen us. The more deliberately we honor this instinct, the more enlivened and joyful life can be, no matter what change offers us.
I'm in the thick of darkness right now, the first light of the sun at the horizon -- that liminal space where change and growth and new life is stirring - within me, in our life and in the world. It feels delicious. Anticipatory, despite the challenges that we will most certainly face. Today, like the seed, I say yes because I embrace change and my instinct is to grow.
My prayer is just beginning to take shape
I ask to listen. May my questions lead me toward living fully.
I ask for presence. May I live with my heart and mind wide open.
I ask for adventure. May I be changed by my experience and be a force for good.
I ask to be a blessing. May I offer grace to those I meet along the way.
I ask for authenticity. May I listen to my own heart and speak wisely.
I ask to connect. May I attune to the heartbeat of Zambia and her people.
I ask for courage. May I walk in beauty and truth and wonder.
I ask to feel roots. May I feel the first threads of belonging and honor them accordingly.
These are my questions, my prayers, spoken into the future on behalf of what has begun. Your questions, too, become the prayers that pave the path of your journey. The quality of the questions will shape and mold so much of the experience. What will your prayer for new beginnings be?