When I used to hunt white-tail deer in Alabama it always started off early in the morning. Long before the sun would rise I would trudged through the cold wet forest find my stand and climb up as high as my body would allow. Then I would sit in silence in the dark. The forest would be still for a good hour and a half. No sound but the wind in the trees or the dew falling on the leaves below. But suddenly, just before dawn, as the sky began to turn from inky black to a grey, the world would begin to come alive. Birds would chirp, squirrels would chatter, and crows would caw. Life began to move. Jon Foreman describes the sunrise from the west coast as a moment where the rest of the sky is waiting to fall in love(my paraphrase). It is a sudden moment. What once was black and void becomes illuminated in a wash of light that penetrates the shadows with an unknowable force. One of the reasons I don’t hunt anymore is that I just don’t like to be cold. I love being outside, and I love nature, but I dread being cold. Sitting in a tree, shivering in the dark just has lost its appeal to me. I guess also I would rather view the wildlife than kill it too. But I digress. I would sit and shiver waiting and longing ever so much for the sun’s rays to hit me and warm me up. Its such an odd thing for the light to stream through the trees in beams of radiant gold that you can feel on your face, like a warm hand cupping your cheek.
We put a good deal of stock in the end of the year celebrations. Generally we give the biggest gifts at Christmas. We make the boldest plans at New Years. The trick is that perhaps the focus is a bit lopsided. If we give so much focus to the end and the beginning, where is the in between? What are we doing in the middle? The response might be that you simply maintain. That you go through life and make sure that one day goes through much like the one before it. No real change, no real movement, just a cog in the machine of what has been created around you. That doesn’t sound very much like a life that has much going for it. In fact it sounds very much like the very definition of stuck in a rut. On the whole, 2016 certainly seemed to be a year of yuck. There was a ridiculous amount of turmoil both at home and abroad. Even more locally there has been a good deal of just upheaval. There are at least two generations who are trying to figure out how to take over for the outgoing generation. One is bitter, the other completely inept at handling adversity, both missed out on something in their adolescence. So where does that leave us? It leaves us at suddenly.
The rising sun will come to us from Heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death. Luke 1:78-79. We are left at suddenly when we come to the realization that there has been no movement because we have all been walking around blind and cold. It is the same concept of slowly getting sick and then having medicine make you feel better much faster. You never realized just how sick you were until, suddenly, you were better. This past year we have been in a bad place as a society. We have been cold and in the dark. It is time that the suddenness of the dawn reaches us…rather, that it be allowed to reach us. The reaction to sudden light is to shrink away, to even feel physical pain. But we need to allow ourselves to be warmed and healed.
My prayer for you this New Year is that you allow suddenly into your life. That suddenly you find healing, suddenly you find forgiveness and forgive. Life cannot begin to move until suddenly things have changed. No more ruts, no more merely making it through. Rather, making it move, making it change, making it better, and making more of what has been given to us.