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Another Year: looking back to look forward

I’m in Barcelona writing this. Soaking up new sounds and sights while looking over the previous year. Another year… another birthday and I am called to reflection. I keep building my life from scratch and this year was no different. It’s always a process of becoming.

2017 has been a year of courage. We’ve all needed courage in ways we did not anticipate. I see it all around… brave voices rising. And I’ve seen it in myself this year.

This year I left spaces, relationships and dynamics that were oppressive and toxic. I keep doing this— refining what is healthy and nourishing and getting a clearer vision of me. I discovered a community where my values and commitments are held and honored. I’ve replaced the toxic with loving, respectful community that desires to see me grow.

And though I’ve made these strides, this year has also been one with crippling anxiety and fear. I’m learning that the only thing that can conquer fear is love.

Richard Rohr reminds us that in order to be one in Love we must let go of our false selves. This year was one for shedding and grieving of many false selves. False selves are those aspects in my life that are attached to accomplishments, material goods, the put-together-face I show in public, the preservation of my frail ego. I don’t blame myself for having such things… security and safety are ultimately what I long for but to prioritize such things also barricade me from vulnerability, intimacy and growth.

Politically and personally, I haven’t felt more exposed and vulnerable than what I have felt this year. Since the trump administration took office it has been a series of bad news that impact my mind and my heart. I look to places where I can exert control to secure my life and my children’s futures. A lesson this year has been learning to love— even in the absence of security. It has been a painful lesson and also a freeing one. It is a lesson I have not mastered and not one I expect to master any time soon, but I’m going to let it be a compass for the next chapter.

What loving has taught me is that in love there are all kinds of risks: rejection, misunderstanding and judgement. This is precisely why love is brave.

bell hooks reminds us that our ultimate task is to love and that to truly love one must release oneself from the constraints and burdens of security. When I was younger my father used to quote the verse to me about how perfect love casts out fear and I always thought I know no perfect love but this year showed me a refining love that moves towards acceptance and embrace in the face of fear. This must be part of what was meant in that verse.

As I look forward, I have a feeling that this next year is going to require more brave love. So I’m gearing up— getting ready for more bumps and bruises, because that’s what happens when you expand your heart.

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