Written in my new journal on the 1st of December, 2011.
A new journal. A new month. I like the idea of a journal each month – it gives a focus to each journal, as well as to each month. I wanted November to be a month of doing things on purpose. I thought about trying to give up something for the month, but decided instead to make choices (of food, books, drinks, ideas, time) on purpose, instead of letting them happen to me by default. For me, this intentionality serves some of the same purposes as giving something up, because by choosing, I release other options. It feels right to do something because I mean it, to live life on purpose and not as a series of accidental occurrences or passive stumblings.
Now it is December. The final chapter of the year, the climax and denouement all furiously rolled into one busy, packed, non-stop month. Ahead loom concerts, Christmas plays, birthdays, parties, presents, newsletters, shopping, evenings with friends, family phone calls, and so on. And yet, frantic is not the word I choose to guide this December, this journal. Nor is over-indulged, over-spent, exhausted, or excessive. I have something else in mind.
December is the end of autumn, the beginning of winter. The days are the shortest, the nights long and dark. But in December, I can see the space between the branches. Once the leaves have come down to rest, the sight of tree limbs silhouetted against the dusky sky takes my breath away. Only in December do we glimpse such grace. December holds the possibility of sleepy transformations. Some nights, we may close our eyes to a starry sky, to find that in the morning, a snowstorm has moved in and silently changed the way the world looks. Through its darkness, its cold, its wild weather, December reminds me that there are always forces at work larger than our imaginations and desires. The winds will blow regardless. And change direction heedlessly. And in that large unknowningness, renewal resides.
It is a month I will mark with pockets of silence, where both the outer and the inner noise can come still. I show up at the blank page, day after day, drama after drama, and write away the worries, write down the jewels, write out my questions, write my way into answers, write to discover what lies beneath or hovers above or lurks behind. Because in those spaces of quiet, when the journal opens, the pen moves, and the pages begin to fill, a world comes forward. A world that lives in the periphery of our busy days takes center stage. When we give it our attention, it whispers the marvellous secrets we most need to hear.
So this is my December wish for you: to see the space between the branches, to be surprised by sleepy transformations, to hear reminders in the wind of all that we cannot control, and to find pockets of inner and outer silence. For all that we do during this season, December is also a time to not do, to pause, to breathe lungful after lungful of sharp cold air, knowing that itself is a gift, however else the days may fill.