It’s not really blank, you know. There are variations in the paint, chips here and there, maybe a faded handprint, if I look real close. I might spend too much time looking at it real close, finding the variations, finding the handprint.
I forget, in those times of looking close, that the wall isn’t the thing. I stare at that blank wall for a long time, thinking about how to fill it, thinking about what to hang, how to paint, putting in a window or a fireplace. How hard would it be? How expensive? How long will it take? How messy?
When I look into the start of the new year sometimes it’s a blank wall I see. Other times it is a dark and deep hole in the ground. How deep is that? I wonder to myself. I drop some coins into it. I listen for the plink into water or thud into dirt at the bottom. It does not always come. I peer into the dark a long time, waiting for my eyes to adjust, making out anything possible, anything moving, anything bearing just a little light.
I woke up today cranky and it was not because I stayed up too late binge-watching House on Netflix, or at least, I don’t think that’s the reason. I moved through my familiar shuffle to the coffee pot. I greeted the now fully-waked children, who were already deep into the new box of cereal. I poured out a little prayer as the coffee dripped into my cup. Morning always seems promising. The first coffee bolsters that promise. The “New Year” catches me in a current and I am riding it– so far, so good. But it doesn’t last and my cranky mood takes over. What is it? I think to myself.
I know what it is. I remember it now as I sit to examine the sharp tone of my reprimands, the exasperation when I see the stack of dishes in the sink already, the tightness in my chest when, despite my best intentions, I find myself comparing my “New Year’s Eve” to the pictures I see on the computer, my last year to everyone else’s last year.
It’s a new year. Why am I still so far from the goal?
The start of the calendar New Year is a trap for me. It sets up a false expectation that change came overnight while the fireworks went off, while the clock hands moved past midnight while my children slept soundly in their beds. Resolutions are made whether I meant to make them or not. Promises, not kept from last year, resurrect like zombies rising, arms outstretched and groaning. Remember me? They say, with voices that are eerily familiar from years of repetition. The idea that I woke to a blank wall or a deep well that formed while I slept and that the world somehow “reset” is flawed, at best. I just don’t buy it. I cannot buy it.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
After the second cup of coffee, a closing of the social media windows and maybe one more round of “why” I make a slow descent into prayer. I don’t want to go. I’d rather stare at that blank wall. I’d rather stare into the deep well in the ground. It’s astounding how fruitful that promise of the blank wall or the deep dark hole in the ground seems and yet, we must descend in the heart, no matter the distractions, the comparisons, the rest of Season 5 of House on Netflix. We all know it’s worth doing, don’t we? Do we?
It doesn’t matter. Every day is Day One. Start here. Move slow. Breathe and pray and put aside the earthly cares, even if it’s only for a moment. There’s time enough for everything, mercies enough for all of us, new every morning.