Picture The Holidays - Day 26
If you have a mess on your hands today, never fear. There is beauty to be found even on those days! As you go about the big tidy, be aware of the order that rises from the chaos. There is a visual respite there waiting to be discovered.
When you see it, you'll know. Your lens will know what to do.
It is actually two days after Christmas as I write these words, and the scene here is my dining room table which served as gift wrap central and makeshift photography studio throughout the holidays and this project.
This little hope ornanament was one of the various adornments I put on my packages this year. Since I didn't decorate the house, I put a little extra effort into my package wrapping. Even though it was undone in a second, it seemed to be appreciated. These word ornaments provided a keepsake for future Christmas trees so it wasn't completely a waste.
Our family could use a dose of hope this morning, as we learned my sister is not coming home from the hospital just yet. They found evidence of staph in her lungs so they kept her over last night to monitor her. This morning it looks like they want to run some more tests. In the process of all this poking and prodding, they also discovered diabetes. As this is the second diabetes diagnosis in my family this year, my little self pep-talk motivated by the "Attitude Adjustment" prompt seems almost prophetic.
Since I'm fairly new to blogging, I'm still figuring out exactly the right balance between self-disclosure and the privacy rights of others. I try to be careful, but I'm trusting those around me to let me know if I cross the line.
Without going into much detail, there are many people in my life currently that need to hold on to hope and maybe you do, too. The message received from this little "hope" ornament was what I spotted as I set up this shot was not lost on me today. After the gifts were wrapped, given, and the holiday was but a memory, hope was all I had left.
This wonderful quote says it all to me:
Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. ~Anne Lamott
I've only recently discovered the work of Anne Lamott as my interest in autobiographical writing, personal essay, and creative non-fiction has grown. (Yes, I have book recommendations, but I'll do that another time). In this one snippet, she has captured the essence of what has kept me going during the darkest nights of my soul. There have been a more than a few.
Hope begins in the dark. Have you ever tried to give someone who is terribly discouraged a pep-talk? It's not easy to get beyond the "yes, buts" because they just can't envision a better future, getting that break they need, or life being any different than it is - except maybe worse. We want to see how it all works out, and then we can believe it will get better.
Hope wouldn't be necessary if we had that vision. It begins in the dark when we can't see anything but the trail of perceived failures and disappointments that are behind us. Disappointing maybe, but failures no. To paraphrase Edison, failures are really just things that didn't work.
Hope begins when you cannot see your way clear and all can do is take that next right step. Stubbornly, persistently, putting one friggin foot in front of the other until you see some light.
When I graduated with my college degree at age 39, my father made a little speech during my party and he said something that I'll never forget. "LeAnne has shown us that it is never too late to do the right thing."
I won't forget it not only because I profoundly believe it is indeed never too late, but also because when I started that journey no one really thought I should go back to school at that time in my life - including my dad. There were valid reasons for this thinking.
I'd jettisoned my first college career two years into it to get married, and ended up as a single mom, underemployed, and a little bit of student loan debt from a second failed attempt to get my degree. I intended to major in Liberal Studies, my career background was oriented towards IT and business, so it was hard to imagine how getting this degree would help me move forward financially or career-wise.
But, I was stubborn. It seemed like the right thing to do even though there was no evidence that it would improve my life one wit. I don't know if it landed me a better job than I would have gotten without the degree. After all, I ended up back in IT and advanced rather rapidly in my current job even though I've done nothing formal to advance my knowlege in this field.
What it did give me was confidence. Confidence that I could see a difficult challenge through to the end, overcome odds, and complete what I started 20 or so before. This confidence has no doubt helped me in numerous ways - not only in career or finances. It was one step in the long, and I mean long, journey towards my calling, which is my word for 2012 by the way. I'm still pretty much in the dark about that one right now, which is why I chose the word. It is good that I've become a little bit more comfortable on dark or dimly lit paths.
When all was said and done, everyone agreed it was the right thing to do. That wasn't the case in the dark beginning. In the beginning, it was just me and my stubborn plodding towards that which I could not see.
As we step forward into the new year, with the challenges we already know are ahead of us and those we don't know of yet, I think Lamotte's words are a powerful mantra.
Hope begins in the dark.