It rained on New Year’s Eve, and I stretched myself across my bed to read my journal from 2022. I try to do this on the cusp of each year, and I’d like to say it’s an enjoyable thing— one of reminiscing and laughing over the good times had, and sometimes, it is. For example, I’d forgotten about that Sunday morning in July when Sammy and Mr. Bill and I swapped stories about our troubles with squash bugs in the garden, and how we’d tried dish soap and blasting hose water to no avail, and how we called it Battle of the Squash.
But mostly, it’s a trudge to read back over my year.
That’s the difference between my “Journal” here online and the hardback copy on my desk. I write things in my physical journal that I will never share online, because they’re questions and fears only God can mend in time. It’s important I tell you that, because it could seem that I live a good and mostly romantic life. I write about gardening and climbing trees and family feasts around our big table, and maybe those are things you long for but don’t have the time or capacity.
Can I make something clear?
My life as it appears online is only the good fruit of a daily struggle in the dirt of life. For me, blogging is a practice of looking for where the light cuts through the gray— which means I may not often mention the gray bleakness itself. Someday, when I’ve lived more life, I hope I’ll know how to write more of it. But just now, I’m writing toward the Light, and that means writing about the places where I’ve found it streaming in.
With that said, here’s a review of the writing I shared last year, of the light I found, and of some gray bleakness behind it, too.
(I should mention that the idea for a year-end review was inspired by Lore Wilburt’s newsletter.)
. . .
Last January found me emerging from a wilderness of spiritual drought, thirsty for Jesus to fill me with himself. So I started the year by remembering the ways he filled me in 2021, drop by drop, in a piece called A Handful.
In February, it snowed upon snow, I baked sourdough bread, and while it rose, I worked on reading feverishly through the entire Bible. Those things resulted in posts about Miss Twiggley’s Tree (simply the best children’s story) and Sourdough and the Psalms. I also posted an essay I’d had in me for a long time— one I was a little afraid to share, called, The Hill.
In March, I was beginning to study the Old Testament, so I wrote an essay on walking my neighborhood streets and what it meant that Enoch and Abraham “walked with God.”
With April came Easter, and I shared an essay on Good Friday called Burnt Grass, about the death that must come before life. Death-before-life requires a kind of mortification that I wrestle every day. Early springtime tends to be especially gray for me, and so Easter was a practice in sharing in Christ’s resurrection, which is why I wrote Leaves of Healing.
May brought cumulous clouds and minor tornado warnings, and I got caught up in the thrilling idea of chasing a storm. (One of my top Spotify podcasts in 2022 was called Tornado Trackers.) May also brought political rumors that Roe v Wade could be overturned, which had me thinking about womanhood, childbearing, and life in Daughters of Eve.
We came back from the Rockies and in August, and I shared Three Thoughts from the Mountain. I hadn’t wanted to leave Colorado, and when I did, I came home to heat and a haggard garden. My heart was tired of the way everything at home seemed to be growing old and dying. I longed to stay at the mountain lake, where the winds were young, and my prayer, A Gardener’s Lament, came from that place of weariness.
I must have been pining to get back to the mountains in October, because I wrote about the dark skies of Westcliffe, Colorado and hiking to Grizzly Peak in Rocks of Remembrance. I was also reading Letters from the Mountain by Ben Palpant (my favorite read from 2022), and was inspired to write my own benediction: An October Blessing.
I finished Year 1 of the Author Conservatory in November and shared all I’d been working on in this sweeping update.
December was very good. I told stories from Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet To Come. Last of all, I wrote my sister Leanna’s story in Winter in Her Womb. It was the first in a series I’m calling True Stories from Home, which will string across these first months of the new year. In fact, you can look for a new story this Friday.
A year of writing for me has been a year of reading for you, dear friend, and I thank you for it. I hope you see the Light cutting through the gray. I hope it falls right into your lap and reminds you that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).
By grace alone, for God’s glory alone,