Monday, December 31, 2012

Better Than Light

“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:  ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied:  ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.  That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’

I first read that quote the year I had literally gone out into the darkness—quit my job at a school where I was teaching, given up my apartment and gone off to work on my doctorate in an environment about as far removed from my life and lifestyle as possible—the huge and ultra secular University of New Hampshire.  I had no idea what to expect.  All I knew was that I hoped I could succeed in a world I had had little or no contact with until that point.

Looking back, I’m not sure how I had the courage to do it, although if you know me at all, you know I am a risk-taker, always pushing the envelope, so maybe it’s not such a surprise that I would do something like that after all.    Although there were many things foreign and even difficult about the experience for me, I don’t regret having done it.  I also learned a lot, the most important being the truth of those M.L. Haskins lines from the poem “God Knows” in her book The Desert.  Any time you put your hand into the hand of God you are in a better light and on a safer way.

This is nothing new to most of us.  In fact, I think probably most of us believe that a life following close to Jesus is absolutely the best life.  Trouble is, it does no good to hold a belief if you don’t practice it.  If you’re not a thinker and a doer, why bother thinking?  Shocking question coming from one who, as a teacher, is continually exhorting her students to THINK, isn’t it? 

Well, I’ve been thinking about doing for a few weeks, now.  This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about doing, of course.  In fact I often think about doing around this time of year.  It’s the New Year, and one can hardly avoid thinking about doing new things, doing things differently, doing things at all!  At least I can’t. Every year for as long as I can remember—and my sisters say I can remember a long ways back, although it’s getting shorter as I get older—I’ve been making New Year’s Resolution lists.  Sometimes they’re long and detailed lists.  Other times they’re brief but cleverly worded lists—working under the theory that a few resolutions are easier to keep than many.  Omit needless deeds, you know.  It depends on how energetic I’m feeling at the moment…

No matter the form, I find myself thinking a lot during the weeks that surround the New Year.  Thing is, that’s the easy part.  Anyone can think, although they don’t always do it.  It’s the acting on the thinking that’s the real challenge.   That's my goal this year.  To act on the thinking, with my hand in God's.  That is definitely better light and safer than the known way.

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