I had a plan to greet the new year and our newest family member at the same time. I expected to see in the new year in a morphine haze with a new baby snuggling next to me. Plagued all night by nurses, in pain but blissfully happy. Staring into her eyes and touching her fingers just to verify that they really are that tiny. And touching her and smelling her.
Is it weird to be sad tonight in my own snug bed with empty arms? I feel her kicking beneath my ribs. Just another couple of days, my love. Soon, soon, soon. Are those cheeks really as big and round as they looked in the ultrasound? Is her hair really as thick? Will she look more like Sophie or Bella? Me or Dom? Ben or Anthony? Or none of the above. Just her own sweet self.
I didn’t make plans for seeing in the new year. I didn’t make plans for tomorrow’s holy day. I put all plans on hold and find myself unexpectedly with this extra time to fill. It seems as much of a burden as a gift. Though I’m not ungrateful for the opportunity for recovery, I’m not quite sure what to make of this unexpected ragged end of the year.
I’m reading about everyone’s resolutions, plans. Looking backward, looking forward. I don’t feel up to making any resolutions or plans. I have no idea how any of this is going to work itself out. How are we going to fit this baby in to the dance of our lives? How is homeschooling going to work with a newborn? How will she sleep? How will she eat? There are too many unknowns. All I can do is resolve to make the best of what comes, to try not to be too stressed, to find a right balance between her needs and everyone else’s. I know this dance, I’ve done it four times before. Every time it’s a joy and a stress. There will be laughter and tears and nothing will ever be the same again. Right now I can’t imagine what our world will be like with Lucia in it and yet I know that in a month or two I’ll hardly be able to remember what life was like without her in it.
The world is ending, changing, upending and rearranging itself to accommodate a whole new person. This is so much more profound than the changing of the date. It was rather a comfort to have them lining up so nicely, though. Once I got over the shock of the idea of surgery on New Year’s Eve, I began to appreciate the appropriateness of it all. And then just as I’d got comfortable with the idea, there, it’s gone. And I’m back to uncertainty and loose ends and waiting, waiting, waiting.
It’s no good trying to make plans because all our plans will ultimately come to naught. The only plan that is worth following is God’s plan and that plan is total surrender. I’m not very good at surrender. Therefore I need lots of practice. And the good Father provides me with ample opportunity to lay down my own desires and preferences, to give up the illusion of control and to allow myself to be led down paths I could never have found on my own.
What will this new year bring? I have no idea. What can I resolve except what I try to resolve every day: to seek His face, to follow His path where it leads me. To try and live as I pray: Thy will be done. This is no easy task. It’s a lifetime’s project. I doubt I’ll make much progress down that road this year. I hope to learn a little more to be gentle with myself when I fall. To be gentle with others when they fail. To be patient and kind and to always seek to be His face to those who see me daily. To see His face in theirs so that everything I do can be an act of service for Him.
There are so many things I’d like to resolve: to have order and peace in my house. To avoid chaos and clutter and confusion. But I think the harder path is to accept that chaos and confusion and clutter are currently my lot in life and to stop raging against them but to instead seek what peace I may in the midst of the storm. I’d love to resolve to stay on schedule, to eat better, to pray more, to exercise more. And yet all those goals seem to recede into the distance when I try to imagine putting them in the front instead of what is clearly going to be my path in the first weeks of this year when recovering from surgery will make all of those goals impossible to meet. And if I can’t start there, how can I get there from here? I suppose I can resolve to revisit them later. To try to pick up the threads as best I can and to resume the weaving of this life, the warp and weft of it. To try as best I can for some continuity and some progress however feeble. Not to let setbacks discourage me but to forge on, to keep setting goals and trying to do the best I can with the circumstances of each day.
In some ways I’m better at setting aside my expectations, laying down my plans for the duration of the crisis, than at picking them back up again on the other side of the crisis. And let’s face it, a newborn baby is a sort of crisis. Recovering from major surgery is a sort of a crisis. I know now how to shift into crisis mode. I’m not so sure about recognizing when it is time to begin shifting out of it, creating new structures, new boundaries, new expectations, new goals. Perhaps because it is so impossible to imagine what those will necessarily look like. Setting out into the unknown, wondering what will be around the next bend of the road. It’s frightening and exciting at the same time. Perhaps it would be less frightening if I didn’t have all these little ones so dependent on me, looking for me to be the pole star, the guiding light, the captain of the ship, charting our path and steering us safely past reefs and rocks and shoals. And so again I find myself needing to renew my resolve to keep my eyes on my own guiding star, to not try to be captain and steersman of my own life but to humbly trust that the hand on the tiller is much firmer than mine could ever be, the captain much wiser in the ways of the sea, the star much more a fixed point than I can ever be. Time to lay down the charts and sail on into the dark, trusting the light that guides me will not fail.
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
I have chosen my star and will stick to it. I won’t be shaken by these tempests. Let Love guide me even to the edge of doom. I will follow.