Return To The Darkest Night Of The Year

God has a funny way of working things out.

Somehow, I don’t understand in what way or why, all the pieces in a puzzle slowly fell into place. So here I am, once again staring at a familiar friend, Orion. He comforts me and reminds me that it is winter, when the word is cold, dark, and crisp. If 1997 was the year that change was demanded and happened, then 1998 was the year that the new took root and began to grow (and grew.) Even as I wrote my first essay in Nashville, Tennessee a full year ago, there were hints and whispers of what the year would be like and where I would go. Now, it would seem, I am here.

So what’s here?

If I’ve learned anything, then I have learned to expect the unexpected. For a while, I thought I would have the chance to return to Nashville and engage in many of the same activities that I did at the last time the night had its longest hold on this part of the earth. None of that happened, however, and I ended up at home. No worry, even though I had received some notes passed in study hall to me about what this year had in store for me, I really had no idea what happened. Thank God. That made the suspense all the more thrilling.

Apparently God dropped someone into my life when I wasn’t looking, and somehow all of the frustration, grief, and struggle made sense and was VERY NECESSARY to set the steps into motion. And so, this summer, under the oddest of circumstances a different new friendship began. And somehow, before I knew it, I had told someone that I was in love with her(!) What’s even more amazing is that she told me the same and a new journey into a familiar, but altogether different territory began.

I have learned more in the past six months than I ever could have possibly anticipated. I’m learning about true joy. Joy that comes from God alone. Joy that pervades life such that it overrides circumstance. Joy that comes from the assurance that on a grand scheme, my life is in the hands of a wise God. I’m learning that the more I trust and give up control of my life, the more I enjoy it. It’s an odd paradox.

A wise man once told me
I was dying just the same
The past can be like sidewalk chalk
If you will dance and pray for rain
-Aaron Tate

So now everything is in place and all is right in the world? Hardly. The future is indeed bright. Graduation and a whole new life inches closer and I can start to make out faint details of what’s ahead, like the hazy outline of the Georgia mountains as I drive north on a favorite highway. As beautiful as this new adventure is, there is lots to do to insure that the storm will not wither the grass, nor will the weeds choke out the grass before it grows. Without reliance on God, there is no hope, but with Him, nothing is to big to dream of. “When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” (Is i any coincidence that this verse appears immediately after the Bible’s most thorough and lengthy discourse about love?) Also, there are still remnants of a broken, ugly time that still manifests itself in the present. Is there any way to manipulate into something more appealing (or at least, less ugly?) or must it be totally left behind for good? Whatever the case, my tasks are clear for 1999. God hasn’t nearly finished His work and that leaves me relieved, because that means there’s more to be discovered.

as i survey the ground for ants looking for a place to sit and read
i’m reminded of the streets of my hometown,
and how they’re much like this concrete that’s warm beneath my feet;

how i’m all wrapped up in my mothers face
with a touch of my father just up around the eyes
and the sound of my brothers laugh,
but more wrapped up in what binds our ever distant lives

hometown weather is on tv
and i imagine the lives of the people living there
and i’m curious if they imagine me
they just want to leave; i wish that i could stay

but if i must go, things i trust will be better off without me
but i don’t want to know; life is better off a mystery

so keep em coming, these lines on the road
and keep me responsible be it a light or heavy load
keep me guessing with these blessings in disguise
and i’ll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes

even from chico to charlottesville i’m always well provided for
but left with longing just enough to remind me of the day before
and to visit places from my past, but only for an hour or so
which is long enough to smell the air, to tell the tale and find the door

but i get turned around; i mistake some happiness for blessing
and i’m blessed as the poor, yet i judge success by how i’m dressing

what’s passed down from year to year; sentiment, names, and recipes
i’d like to pass down more than that a grace that’s bigger than my greatest fears
so i’ll sing a song of my hometown, i’ll breathe the air and walk the streets
maybe find a place to sit and read, and the ants are welcomed company
-Derek Webb

“The days only become brighter from here.”

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