A New Year’s Benediction

Um, is this thing on?  I forgot how to use it.

It’s lovely to be with you again.  I feel like I should explain why I haven’t been here in quite some time, but the truth is I don’t have a reason.  I just didn’t have anything worth saying.

Two things have compelled me to write today.  First of all, tomorrow I get to speak at a Rotary meeting about my loved ones in Uganda, my Vigilantes of Kindness here at home, and the beautiful story we wove together last summer.  I’m thrilled to share and horrified, absolutely horrified, at the thought of speaking to a largish group of adults.

Just thinking about it makes my armpits drip sweat.  Hang on a sec while I go administer copious amounts of deodorant.  Talk amongst yourselves.

Alrighty, now that I’ve got that under control, the second thing that made me pound away at the keys today is Neil Gaiman.  You know him, right?  Amazing author, incredible speaker.  He probably doesn’t sweat a drop when he speaks.

Anyway, Neil Gaiman has written several brilliant New Year’s benedictions for the world.  You should read them.  You’ll be better for it.  Promise.

For the conclusion of my Rotary talk, I reflected on my trip to Uganda and the year as a whole and then I wrote my own New Year’s benediction.  It’s as much for me as it is for you, but most especially it’s for my Vigilantes of Kindness from last year and the Vigilantes who are already on board with me as my return trip begins to take shape.  I’m grateful for each and every one of you.  You inspire me.  You move me.  You make me absolutely giddy to see what’s in store for us this year.

A New Year’s Benediction

love ringsIn this new year, I hope you love deeply and are loved in return.

I hope you find family in the most surprising times and places.

I hope you make beautiful plans, but more importantly I hope that when your plans fall broken at your feet, because they sometimes will, that in quiet solitude you’ll want nothing more and nothing less than to hear God.

And then I hope you’ll listen for His voice, listen so hard that the pounding of your heart overwhelms your eardrums and your very spirit.

I hope you’re tickled and delighted when He answers you in the most unexpected of ways and suddenly you find yourself living a dream greater than you ever fathomed.

I hope you discover depths of humility that compel you to lay aside your own ideas and speak the soothing words, “What do you need and how can I help?”

I hope that when you encounter inequality that you will resist the urge to run and instead stand with feet firmly planted in justice.  I hope that your voice, quiver as it may, rises from your throat in defense of those who have not been allowed to speak for themselves.

I hope that both in the warmth of joy and in the cold face of contempt, you’ll know beyond a shadow of a doubt that beauty rises from our tender, broken places.

Most of all I hope that in this new year you’ll be passionately, unswervingly, desperately vigilant in lavishing kindness on one another.

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12 responses to “A New Year’s Benediction

    • Thanks, Karen. I’ve missed you. In anticipation of my return trip I’m practicing my Acholi and so I say to you, “Apwoyo kato mawaka,” which means “Happy new year!” I can also say things like, “Two jonyo kobo iyoo me rwatte ikin dako ki lacoo,” which means “HIV is transmitted through having sex.” I’ll probably leave that last one out of my Rotary talk tomorrow. ;)

  1. How is it, that even though we know the same words, when you put them together, they sound so much better? I hope the Rotarians will see and hear your passion and support your mission. Hugs to you!

    • I don’t know how that is, but I think it’s similar to the way you and I can put the same ingredients in a recipe and my dish comes out with the texture and taste of rocks and your dish comes out melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Apwoyo kato mawaka (Happy New Year!), J-La!

  2. I agree with the comments above.. this is beautiful… I love reading your thoughts… I can not even put words together to make my comment sound right… I just LOVE YOU!!! You ROCK!!! Happy New Year!!! ((((((HUGS)))))

  3. Brilliance!!!!! You are a true blessing. Enjoy your talk. I wish I could see it….um, you might wanna check the deodorant situation….just sayin’.

    • Checked and double checked the deodorant situation. I’ve got the strongest thing on the market and other than that will just cross my fingers and pray the room is on the cool side. Lord have mercy.

    • It does feel good. Strangely, Bonnie, it didn’t feel bad not writing. I truly just didn’t have anything to say. It was the darndest thing. If we were having this conversation at my house, The Hubs would chime in and say that I ALWAYS have something to say. ;)

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