…and a happy new year?

Revolving Door-01 by Dan4thNicholas on Flickr (CC-BY-2.0)

So, welcome to 2022.

Wouldn’t we all love to think there will be a genuine open door (or more importantly, open borders) soon? As 2021 ebbed, it seemed there might be light at the end of the tunnel. And there was, I suppose –  if you count the oncoming headlamp of the Omicron freight train. Sigh.

I had the honour of speaking at my home church on the first Sunday of 2022, which I titled Not Another New Year’s Sermon! (It is, in fact, about the fourth I have done over the last decade…something to do with everyone else being on holidays…or perhaps the least risky time to let me loose, ha.) Of course, it was really a new year focus in the end. However, I have long since abandoned New Year Resolutions, so this time round I took a another fresh tack; it’s all about the balance of what we need to hold loosely and what we need to hold closely. No surprises for guessing that the challenge is to get them the right way round.

It’s curious how we humans tend to flip things. I have noticed in myself more than once the remarkable ability to zero in on insignificant issues and details, blithely waving away the bigger picture. Not such a problem when working on something like my favourite Christmas present:

Photo by Louise Mathieson.
This is the way – to put 1000 pieces together. Only took me a week!

Ignoring or deferring the big rocks of life in favour of present pebbles doesn’t always work so well, though, as Stephen Covey demonstrated. Indeed, I catch myself frequently deploying my attention in completely inverse proportion to the significance of the task. Maybe I am an especially gifted procrastinator? Or maybe, you too can relate!

Perhaps the first step in finding our open doors is to call out this deja vu of the mundane, that leaves us feeling so stuck. Ever felt like the brave hobbits in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers?

Sam : This looks strangely familiar.
Frodo : Because we’ve been here before. We’re going in circles!

As quoted on IMDb

Part one, I think I need to recognise these default loops I slide into. Call them out for what they are – what am I obsessing over? Where is my time (or money) being spent? What is holding my gaze, my mind, my heart? And are these things worth holding onto so tightly? That’s a question only I can answer for myself, as you must answer for yourself.

Part two, I believe, is confirming those things that we do want to keep close. More and more, I am finding that those things are not things at all, but people, and passions, and purpose. And I need to make intentional, continual choices to hold fast to these, lest I begin again to wander round and round in the wilderness.

Labyrinth at Lands End by Jack Dorsey on Flickr (CC-BY-2.0)

Whatever 2022 may have in hand for me, it doesn’t matter nearly so much as what I choose to keep in hand for myself. Holding on to what matters most will let the incidental rubble slip more easily past my fingers. Tethered firmly and grounded steadily, I can bend in the breeze so I do not break. Back to that tree metaphor again! Which makes sense, I suppose – the roots hold fast, the leaves come and go as seasons require, and the tree flourishes. 

So on one hand, I’ll happily grow like a tree. On the other, I cannot stay in one place. And the revolving door only gives the illusion of motion. Perhaps as I identify my defaults and deliberates, as I practise releasing the trivial and grasping the treasured, when exit opportunities appear I’ll be more ready to move quickly. Correcting that balance of hold loosely/hold closely will equip me to leap with a much better likelihood of sticking my landing.

So here’s to being focused and flexible, steady and swift, planted and pliable. Happy new growing, and may you find many open doors of adventure awaiting you.