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Nurturing the Spirit of a Beginner

Wednesday morning, I scrolled through all the pictures on my phone from mid-2016 to 2018. It made me feel full, as if I had eaten a good meal and was settling in for a nap. I watched our babies grow, even seeing the startling realization that I was pregnant for the fourth time unfold in the photos. I cut my hair short. I learned how to dress myself. I made space for work and redecorated our home, changing the spaces to suit our growing and maturing family. The faces of my closest friends showed up beside my own and the seasons cycled, bare branches shifting to the explosion of green summer. I wanted to go back and hug my babies, yes, but I also wanted to hug myself. The main thing I felt for the me in those photos was compassion. Life was full and hard and so much good was growing even if I was too exhausted to see it.

I knew those seeds were germinating. That’s why I took the photos. I wanted the record of what looked like nothing because one day I would know it was something. This is the startling truth of our lives at every point. These ordinary days, where we wrestle for hope and discipline and faithfulness, will burst forth with some new life. We just might not see it for a few years; in the moment, it simply looks normal. It was true in 2017 and it’s true today in 2021.

Right now, I’m recovering my love of being a beginner. I’ve always loved learning and when you are learning, you start knowing nothing. This can be harder with age, and I want to practice this skill on purpose. I want to nurture beginning something unknown, fumbling into new steps. In Show Your Work, Austin Kleon writes, “Even for professionals, the best way to flourish is to retain an amateur’s spirit and embrace uncertainty and the unknown.” He had already told us that an amateur is someone “who pursues her work in the spirit of love…, regardless of the potential for fame, money, or career.” None of these things will make me famous or rich, but they will cultivate life right here where I am.

It’s 2021, after all. There’s still a pandemic; it’s been almost a year since we started quarantine. Our schedule hasn’t shifted a lot but I want to experiment in the ways that we can, explore our lives.

I repainted our bedroom last Tuesday. Justin pulled everything to the center of room and I threw down some plastic, had the boys take turns reading to me, and painted. It’s white now. It looks stunning withThe Crafter’s Box project that was already hanging on the wall and showcases the new army green bedding. I spent a couple of weeks saving pictures of bedrooms on Instagram so I know what I have in mind. We’re going to hang shelves and put art and plants and books on them. Then throw a print over the dresser. It will be cozy and beautiful and I’m thrilled to watch it come together.

This blog is slowly coming back to life as well. I’ve known that one thing I want to do this year is write. It’s a good mental exercise for me to pull a piece together and I have always had a deep love for my blog. I promised myself that it didn’t have to be fancy. I didn’t have to aim for page views or be heady and theological or new and trendy. At the end of the year, I simply want the work to be here. What I’m really after is what it will do in my heart. This is the same reason that I’ve been writing poetry again and started keeping a journal. I have low expectations but I know it’s good work.

We are attempting to eat better/more locally this year. We’ve started with two simple changes. We started buying meat at a local butcher shop. It’s delicious and amazing and I’m pleased with the change. And we are trying out Misfits Market. You can click that link to check them out but they are working to eliminate food waste and it means a plethora of organic fruits and veggies will be delivered to our door, every week if we want, for not much money.

I’d like to learn to compost this year. I’ve been really struck by the fact that to be human is to be tasked to care for the earth. We’ve not been doing a stellar job as humanity and I’d like to contribute a little more than I am. Composting is supposedly very easy but feels intimidating. I’m determined to work through it.

I’m seven weeks into my my first Greek class for seminary. It’s hard and frustrating and full of tedious memorization and practice and looking words and paradigms up. I did feel deep satisfaction when my group successfully translated ten verses of 1 John from Greek to English last week. Next quarter I’ll take Greek B and then, in the summer, an exegesis class that uses the Greek text instead of the English. It feels like a marathon. But my goal with Greek is to learn it well and use it for the rest of my life.

None of these things are big in the moment. I’m adding a few rhythms to my weeks now that I might share later and I know, simply from experience, that these are the things I’ll look back on later and credit with reshaping my life. Only this time, I plan to notice them while they are happening (as much as I can anyway) and give thanks for the hidden work that’s occurring.






Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

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