all of the selves we Have ever been
I collect beautiful words like others collect exquisite jewelry.
A pen is always handy so that I can acquire moving and delightful phrases wherever I find them. I like to study my gems, holding them up to the light, examining their many facets. I memorize them so that I can be properly attired when an occasion calls for jewels.
I look through my treasure chest often, mining the contents for comfort, hope, inspiration, and motivation. Somewhere in the box I always find what I need to go on.
Today is such a day, the last day of a difficult year. In 2020 there were few occasions to dress up and step out, but there were many days to mine the treasures of my word chest. A jewel I wore each day came from the Book of Lamentations, the Bible’s book of sorrow from a time of suffering. The page in my prayer book is marked by a Kleenex tissue, but I do not need to turn the page. The tissue reminds me of the words I know by heart: “The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NCV)
There were days in 2020 when those mercies found me, and days when I had to remind myself to open my eyes and look harder. Every morning there was a cup of steaming spiced tea. I sipped the tea while cozy under warm covers as I prayed for the world, my country, and the people I love. There were bitter cold mornings when the old battery in my car turned over and the engine started. There were phone calls from friends and plenty of laughter. There were hot showers and enough to eat. There was yet another day without COVID in my home or in my family. God’s mercies were new every morning; promise fulfilled.
In my treasure chest are words written on a paper napkin. I heard them on the radio while driving. A woman was being interviewed. She had survived 9/11 in New York City and was there again trying to survive COVID-19. The interviewer asked the woman how she kept going. “There are seeds under the ground,” she said. On a dreary and bitter cold morning at the end of a terrible year, there are seeds under the ground. The world will blossom with life again. The seeds are patiently waiting to fulfill their promise.
An older gem in my collection came from a greeting card I purchased when a friend had a baby. The front of the card contained a quote from Charles Dickens: “It is no small thing that they, who are so fresh from God, love us.” Ah, something bigger and more important than the coronavirus…This jewel reminds me of another. When my own children were still so fresh from God and learning to speak, they thought the traditional greeting for the start of a new year was “Happy You Near.” I have always treasured those words, and now as we leave 2020 behind and enter into a new season of uncertainty, those words have never been more meaningful or appropriate. That gem rests in the same crown with the Irish proverb: “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”
I do not know what the next year will bring. I do know that I will continue to add to my treasure chest and to look for the words that comfort, inspire, and motivate. May you have your own deep mine of diamonds. Whatever else happens in 2021, may you find shelter in that palace of people you love, and may fresh mercies find you each and every morning.
Happy You Near!