I love January's solitude: early mornings wrapped up against the cold, evenings under a throw with a book or journal. Time to listen, to review the year that has just ended, to claim its truths…a time to winnow, separate the wheat from the chaff. The days are spent sifting through drawers and closets. The mornings and nights, sorting thoughts, reframing perspectives. My energy reserves seem to rise to the task at hand but only if I guard my time. I am not drawn to large gatherings, never more so than during January. Solo time with a close friend or two but no parties, please. I have a date with the cosmos.
Frederick Buechner's wonderful words resonate: The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming. But again and again we avoid the long thought. We cling to the present out of wariness of the past. And why not, after all? We get confused. We need such escape as we can find. But there is a deeper need yet, I think, and that is the need - not all the time, surely, but from time to time - to enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as a part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive ourselves to turnings, and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember - the room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived.
During one of my explorations, an old journal surfaced
and I revisited memories long-shelved but evocative, like a song or a scent.
I wrote of "black and velvet-blue invisible bruises"of being "crushed, fermented, aged, poured out"
of "a broken and contrite heart, shards, only shards"
And recalled "a soul-sick wounded warrior, bloodied and weary, the battle over."
In time the rawness softened but even now, the words pierce my heart. Letting go brings lightn but the work - both physical and emotional - devours energy. Perhaps this is the genius of the process. I am compelled to sit, to be still. To let the pain of deep sadness wash over me, until I am filled to bursting. To wait in silence, wait all the way to quiet joy. To pray, not because I understand or because I have power, but to open myself understanding, to tap into a source of power greater than I am. To dwell for a time in my room called Remember where time distills, not diminishes, pain.
Inside the old basket on my desk, corners of napkins and torn receipts are filled with scribbled notes
that cover stacks of yellowed pads. I lift one and begin to read my scraps of truth, the piecework of a life small bits of gratitude resting on top of angry, spiteful words. Written in the pre-dawn hours, the only quiet moments of my day, I commit fears and dreams to a life of cerulean blue
Piece by tattered piece, I re-read old words and, with the red fountain pen, record a few in a worn leather journal, this my only legacy. I light the pieces of my past and watch tiny flames spiral into a rusty metal bucket, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and sit - emptied and quiet - in the candlelight. Listening.