Changing the Calendar

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,4

As we move from 2022 to 2023 it is natural for us to look back and reflect on the year: the highs and lows, the celebrations and the defeats, and our joys and our sorrows. Most years are mixed blessings but hopefully we move into the new year with peace in our hearts.

Each of us receive twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. Time seems to fly, and I often wonder where it goes. I try to slow time down through reflection. I spend time in contemplative prayer each morning, I try to write about one event where there is love each day, and I keep a calendar.

I’m old fashioned. I like a physical calendar that I can hold, scribble in with pen or pencil. I like to mark things off when I complete them (I know; it’s an ego thing.) I like to casually turn the pages from one month to the next, if only my sense of time moved so freely.

I especially enjoy reading the “to do notes” I write for each day. Nearly every day from last April is full of reminders of people to visit, classes to attend, prayer walks to lead. On Friday, April 8 we walked in Boyle Park and centered our prayers around love for people. It was a sunny day, a few flowers were blooming orange, yellow, and red. Eight to ten of us meandered slowly around the circular tree lined path, prayed silently, and drank in “nature’s first green.” It was a moment of rest and restoration. Wayne Muller writes, “When we become still and allow our life to rest, we feel a renewal of energy and gradual clarity of perception.”

Yet I/we often struggle to find “time” for rest and renewal.

We fill our days with things to do, some necessary and some not. How intentional are we about our need to rest and replenish our souls? As we make our new year’s resolutions, will we create time and space to simply be?

Overall, my April calendar is full of scribbly notes, circled events, asterisks, question marks, and lines drawn through canceled appointments. It looks very busy, and I don’t remember most of it.

Underneath the maze of activities written in my calendar, I see that Good Friday and Easter took place in April. I notice a little note on April 15 that says, “6 P.M.-Cedar Grove Cemetery, Good Friday.” I remember the peace as many of us gathered around the quietness. The deer were grazing in Pilcher’s hay field. The birds sang their last songs as the sun set. We told stories of loved ones who passed on and the gifts they gave us. Christ was present. We gathered around an old wooden cross draped in a black sheet as we sang, “In our end is our beginning.” It was a “Good” Friday full of love and sorrow, sadness and joy.

Grace found us “on a hill far away.” Where did Grace find us this past year?

As I turn the calendar pages of 2022 from April to May to June and to July, a pleasant surprise greets me. July was nearly void of any notes or reminders. The page is clean and fresh with a simple note on July 4 which says, “Start Long Walk Home.” I went on sabbatical with Ro, and we hiked the Colorado Trail.

For thirty-four days we walked under the sun and the stars and through rain and lightning storms. We drank from mountain streams of living water, we met angels smoking Marlboros, and we got lost and found in the wilderness. Beauty saved us.

This time on my calendar is blank and empty, even though my life was full.  As we reflect on 2022, are we more aware of living in the Presence when we are empty, and our days are not full?

Father Ron Rolheiser writes, “I suspect for all of us we had a year of mixed blessing. It had its cold bitter moments and more than enough heartaches and headaches. But, for all of us too, I am sure, it had its joys and its newness, its extraordinary blessings.” Isn’t this life?

We are starting a new year with a blank calendar, and we can’t control everything that will be written in it. But we can be more intentional about creating space for stillness, for prayer and meditation, for relationships and listening, for time to listen to our hearts and other hearts. In 2023, with the Grace of God, may we lie down in green pastures, may we sit beside still waters, and may Grace restore our souls (see Psalm 23).

Blessings and peace,