Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Year

The white light of a full moon is rising, all film noir, behind my window blinds. I have no idea what moon it is. January's moon. I will probably Google it.

I did.

It's the wolf moon. The first full moon of the year. The first cycle of light in the darkness of the year. The quiet season full of night and frost.

And hope. I guess. We, as a people, hope that this year we will accomplish the secret dreams we ordinarily keep swathed under grave clothes of reality. We join the gym, challenge ourselves to read forty books this year (true story), promise to drink more water and eat less of whatever is evil this
year (is bread still out or should I swear off milkshakes...cheese isn't an option). In January we are giddy with hope. We forget for a week or two that is takes more that hope to still be at the gym in July. We forget last summer's rain-split tomatoes and make enthusiastic annotations to our favorite seed catalogs. Our past failures seem artifacts of thin resolve or unavoidable distraction. During the winter dark is safe to dream until the lengthening days reveal the dust in the corners of our plans.

But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them, for it to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs."

Perhaps we should allow our hearts to hope because that is what children do. Four year olds hope foolishly. They cross a crowded room to hug someone because they can't imagine a world where someone might not want a hug. They haven't been scorned enough...yet.

I want to be a writer. I want to be fit. I want to be just. I want to be happy again.

But I am howling at a wolf moon, hungry and thin from a midwinter's famine. My faith and hope have been stretched by grief and laundry. It is too hard to have faith sometimes, but the Christ candle burned on Christmas day. I spent more than one moment staring hard at that candle. It hurt to celebrate the birth of a baby who was so special that he escapeed the slaughter of the innocents. The hero escaped.

The tears of the mothers of the ordinary innocents filled my head this Christmastide. Why were our babies too ordinary to escape to Egypt? I lit the white pillar candle, not in giddy birthday celebration, but as a deliberate statement of hopeless faith.

Perhaps some of you haven't read Patrick Rothfuss's fantastic (unfinished) trilogy, the Kingkiller Chronicles, but, if you have, you are familiar with the game of tak. Tak is a game of elegance. Brutal logic and strategies could never build a whole game of tak. One must strive to play a beautiful game. He builds that up more satisfyingly, but, heck, it's his world, not mine.

I admit that there are days I can't find enough faith to line my dryer's lint screen. The Coventry Carol seems more relevant than Joy to the World. Epidemic poverty and disease make the whole Biblical story seem illogical and brutal.

It might seem very unlikely that an apparently chaotic system is the product of loving design, but following a man who's teachings plead with us to protect the innocents once slaughtered seems a more elegant and noble life. A wolf moon will light the way, an unblinking orb of cold, wild light, and a candle.

A deliberate choice.

A beautiful game.

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