I love new things, don’t you?
I mean I love old things, too.
There’s just something comforting about the familiar.
But the new? It holds the promise of discovery and growth: Journeys to be undertaken. Accomplishments to be wrought. Stories to be uncovered. Songs to be sung. Dances to learn. Hands to hold. Prayers to pray. Rejoicing yet to happen. Meals to be enjoyed. Wines to be sipped. Beauty to witness – and just maybe to create.
2017 was a time I could not envision even ten years ago. Now it is a memory of a year gone by. A year of hurt and failure. A year of depression and disappointment. A year of rage and resistance. A year of betrayals and rejections. A year of brutal honesty and national domestic abuse.
A hard, hard year and yet, there was beauty still: In the tears of the brokenhearted. In the embrace of loved ones. In the laughter of a child. In the drip of an IV carrying life-saving drugs to the cancer-stricken. In the ringing of a bell. In a cup of Stumptown Holler Mountain. In a walk with a loved one. Or kayaking on quiet waters. And in the best seats in the house and a hug from the generous-grinning HAMILTON himself.
Beauty was present because God was always at our side, never forsaking us. Never.
2018 will be no different. There will be hard things. Unbearable moments. Hardships we never imagined. Never want to imagine. Yet, there will also be incomprehensible joys. There will much laughter. Much twirling. Much rejoicing. There will be victories won and high fives all around. There will be moments of deep intimacy and understanding. Times when we finally feel completely understood and deeply loved and appreciated. There will be sunny days of quiet reflection and a gratitude that overwhelms us. Days when our spirits soar, when we sense that we really are co-creators with God. Days when we choose more good than evil. Days when we make God proud of the people we are becoming. Days when we are proud of the people we are choosing to become.
That’s really the promise of every new year, isn’t it?
The notion that we can become a better people.
Only Jesus can really wipe our slates clean, transform us from the inside out, but it is still important to recognize the hope that a new year offers each of us.
I’m excited about 2018.
I received news back in October that has made me even more excited than I would normally be on this last night in 2017.
Shall I let you in on the secret?
Lean in close, I can only whisper it for now. It seems too precious of a thing to shout out.
I have been selected as West Virginia’s Appalachian Heritage Writer for 2018. I follow in the footsteps of the likes of Wiley Cash and Charles Frazier, of Ron Rash and Silas House. Of Gretchen Moran Laskas and Bobbie Ann Mason and Adriana Trigiani.
There will be more news to share with you in the coming months, but needless to say, I’m over the moon about this unexpected award. When the good folks at Shepherd University called to tell me about the award, I pulled my car over to the side of the road and wept the big ugly cry.
Some years are so difficult than any act of kindness is bound to be received with even greater humility and gratitude. 2017 was such a year for me.
2018 is already shaping up to be a year of many kindnesses.
Happy New Year y’all.
Let’s make it one of our best ones yet.
Remember the words of the Apostle: Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author CHRISTIAN BEND: A Novel (Mercer University Press).