"no, no, it's not all random, if it really was all random, the universe would abandon us completely. and the universe doesn't. it takes care of its most fragile creations in ways we can't see. like with parents who adore you blindly. and a big sister who feels guilty for being human over you. and a little gravelly-voiced kid whose friends have left him over you. and even a pink-haired girl who carries your picture in her wallet. maybe it is a lottery, but the universe makes it all even out in the end. the universe takes care of all its birds.”
― R.J. Palacio, Wonder
On New Year's Eve morning, we made pancakes. They were fluffy and sweet and filled with bananas. We topped them with syrup, cashew butter and blueberries. As we sipped our coffee and prepared to eat far too many of them, we decided to say a prayer for 2018.
As we began, I realized how much was weighing on my heart for the year ahead. I found myself hurriedly praying through a long checklist of items: for our world to find a little more peace than it did in 2017. For our country to move in the right direction and our leaders to make wise decisions. For our planet to be well cared for. For baby Saxon to be healthy and keep growing into the human it is intended to be. For our jobs, and our lives in Virginia as a soon-to-be family of three. For our families, who are also in seasons of great transition. For our friends to have abundant, gentle years ahead. For the people we don't know, but whom we know are aching.
I felt overwhelmed by all that was on my heart. I often wonder, in these moments, if there was more to pray for this year, or if I'm just paying closer attention. Am I naive to think 2017 was harder on the world than other years?
It hit me, then, that 2017 had some incredibly painful parts to it, especially in world news. But, so did many other years. Not only the ones in my life, but also in the decades upon decades before me.
In a way, this realization made me feel less overwhelmed. I was reminded that I am just one person in a huge world. My life is one small thing, alongside millions of other lives that, together, comprise humanity.
This is not to say that our lives and the things that happen to us don't matter - they most certainly do. But it helped me remember that there will always, always be years that are hard.
It is my prayer that they are followed - hopefully closely - by years that are more joyful. God takes care of his people in ways we do not understand and sometimes cannot immediately see. This Earth has never promised to be simple or easy. In its complexity, we must pray for one another, rely on one another and always, always remember that we are not alone.