As the final hours of the day usher in the new year, I can’t help but think about the defining features of 2016.
This year, I did something different. I decided to invert the New Years tradition of making resolutions. Rather than restricting x, y, or z from my life, I decided I wanted to find something that would open up my life and give me a catalyst for a new sense of freedom (I’m overly responsible, so a little push goes a long way). After the doozy of 2015 and the emotional paralysis I worked through during the beginning of the year, my resolution became “drink more.”
I didn’t give myself a license for license or drunkenness, but instead, pushed on a tender place in my own heart. I’d often been self righteous, clinging to the reality that I am wise and responsible. It’s true, I am stupid responsible (it’s my top strengthsfinder), but that pride – especially when it came to alcohol – became a crutch for too many things: a fear of spending money, a fear of irresponsibility, fear of not knowing what to order, and of self-righteousness a la “How come you can’t be responsible when you drink?”
The exhortation to drink more became an opportunity: when a colleague or friend asked to grab a drink, I had the impetus to do it. No excuses, no cop-outs. And I learned quickly that the price of a glass of wine is infinitely less than the value of the enjoyment, time and conversation it affords. For, as Eliot says in Choruses,”What life have you, if you have not life together?” It’s been a delightful, full, and humbling year.
This week I’ve been thinking about what I want to put on in 2017 and I can’t get the ideas of liturgy or rest out of my mind. If what you love most most defines your life, then I need to reorder my loves. And I need to break from the inane pace of the city and my obsession with my job to do this. I want 2017 to be defined by “resting more.” I want to cease striving and be OK with taking the first and last minutes of the day to read a book, write some thoughts down, or orient my heart in the right way rather than rushing to get to the office before 8am or checking my email before I fall asleep.
I want my life in 2017 to be defined by an intentional pursuit of the things that will shape my heart in the right way. At a high level, this means loving what is most lovely, pursuing what is good, holding fast to what is true, and rightly honoring what is beautiful. Phew, it’s easy to say, but in practice, I’m sure it’s going to be a grand endeavor. I don’t know exactly what liturgy-lived-out should look like in my day-to-day just yet, but I think it means creating space for rest and the opportunity for reorientation, reflection, and repentance.
It’s not likely that each day will culminate in a grandiose climax where all things suddenly come together before an adversary is defeated. Rather, I have a feeling it will look a monotonous slog; a long obedience in the same direction. That is what Nietzsche said made life worth living. Though a mad man, he’s on to something. In Come to Think of It, GK Chesterton speaks about keeping the sabbath routine, “now the one thing that is essential to man is rhythm; and not merely a rhythm in his own life, but to some extent in the living world around him.” I think it’s OK to extend this statement beyond the sabbath and onto everyday of the week. This year I want to give myself the freedom to recognize the limits of my humanity and my essential need for a rhythm, a liturgy, to guide my heart and life towards the right things; the things that will feed my soul.
Here’s to 2017, that it would bring with it a new, intentional rhythm of rest.