I start each year off with goals. They are serious and frivolous, but all lean toward deeper authenticity, community, health. But here’s the thing: they’re all attainable. I write them down in January, knowing that they’ll be locked down by early Spring. Things like: build a sustainable budget, have intentional conversations, read the Bible in one year (okay, not technically done by Spring, but with an app that persistently alerts me to my slacking, that one’s hard to avoid), cook at least once a week (harder than you might think), read the newspaper.
But this year, on top of all the formal, fancy goals that are fit to be taken out and displayed at parties, I made some secret goals; some just-me resolutions that are a bit more ambitious and by no mean guaranteed.
One of these goals has pushed me to read more; to make the most of my isolationist household and not retreat into hours of Netflix reruns. To motivate me, I reordered my bookshelves, moving all those sulking, purchased-but-not-read books into one long, daunting row. And so, at mid-March, I’m slowly conquering my goal, averaging a two-book-a-month pace. I’ve read memoirs, science fiction, fantasy, and even a literary journal, all, in their own way, about redemption and restoration. They’re about hope and promise, but more than that, they’re about clinging to the light in a world full of despair.
They each approach this from different ways: home-cooked food and hospitality; forging community against impossible odds; pursuing the discipline of meaningful relationships; bringing unique art and poetry and story to a world that values mass production; celebrating daily life. Through their own voices, this collection of authors imagines a fuller, richer world and calls me to inhabit it, even if only through their imagination contained in those pages.
This winter has been long, and filled with uncertainty. There is a very real tension between the day-to-day world that I live in and the one I hope to inhabit. And these books have helped give me a language and a framework for thinking about that; about the “now and not yet” tension that fills all of our lives.
The truth in these books calls me out of the fearful world that my secret resolutions live in. They were formed in a pressurized, white-knuckled world where trying is only pursued if success if predetermined. But the beauty of our redemption is that success seemed impossible, but prevailed anyway. To believe in a God that will and is making all things new is necessarily a call to defy cynicism with hope and loneliness with hospitality. It’s to not just believe the impossible but to act and hope and imagine in such a way as to somehow bring the impossible forth.