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I struggled to find today’s page in my daily devotional, the onionskin pages clung so tightly that I had to peel away days to find the right one. So few until 31 December: who would have thought up a year like ‘2018’? That’s the future! How can it be almost gone?

2019: If I am blessed to see it, I pray to do things differently.

Don’t we all as a milestone occurs? We vow to eat less, exercise more, focus on important things … and soon enough find ourselves binge watching a show we actually hate whilst up to our knuckles in a tub of ice cream, fussing about the cost of a gym membership we never use.

I don’t mean that sort of thing at all. Of course, I would like to see the disappearance of the pounds I found during 2018. But doing so will not be at the expense of cooking a lovely … something. I enjoy the kitchen — it has become a therapy for me of sorts — and the savory or sweet delights that result.

At this age and in this world, I refuse to not enjoy and be happy. However, I must temper that enjoyment and happiness through a recognition of the need for health and well-being.

With that comes the need to let go of worry, doubt, and all other things that may bring dark clouds toward this domicile that are within my control. No, I can’t change the state of world affairs but I can tackle my own.

I write letters to two females presently incarcerated as part of my church’s prison ministry. As much as I have desired to go with them on a trip to pray with folks, I readily admit the locking-in is something I struggle with. I am a free spirit and thus, am dismayed by doors that lock and to which I have no key … I worked for a time as a counselor and in that service, I had to do wellness checks on young people who were locked up. To go in, I had to give up my briefcase, my car and house keys, even hairpins (I wore them then). I was permitted to take my case files and was given a blunt pencil once inside the checkpoint (as if such an instrument could not be used in deadly fashion should the wielder be given the opportunity). I may have written about it before but suffice it to say, it was horrible. I often cried once outside, in my car, with my briefcase and keys and hairpins, as I breathed the air and felt the sun on my skin: the darkness, the despair inside — exuded by children nonetheless — was more than my heart could stand.

And so I do not go on the prison visits, knowing that my motive is not to pray with and for the inmate precisely but to walk the halls of such notorious habitations. I am, after all, a writer at the core and what better fodder than the horrors of a San Quentin or similar? I tell you truth here because you know me … I cannot hide from you the depth of this matter. When I lived back east, I enjoyed the drive to my grandparents’ home in Jersey City, not only because we got to visit them but because our route took us past Rahway State Prison (now called East Jersey State Prison I believe, but if you look up Rahway State Prison, you’ll see a photo of it along with the proper current name); the dome, the age of the structure, always caught my imaginings. But I digress, as usual …

I found myself slacking off in my letter writing toward mid-year, despite having connected with both young ladies via an email-like system known as JPay; it is I believe a nation-wide system whereby those inside can write emails to those elsewhere. There are stamps that I purchase and send to my penpals so they can write back to me via this system. Having had people close to me inside, I imagine what it must be like … food that should not be eaten by beast, much less human being; foul treatment all round at times; the darkness, the despair … How can one not reach out to a kindly ghost on the other side of an email or paper letter, how can one not ask for some kind bit of sustenance … an extra few dollars to buy something pleasant?

Yet, the requests began to wear on me, to the point I avoided checking the email messages. I effectively abandoned my penpals.

I mustered myself and wrote to them both recently; one is due to go to a mental health facility for those with criminal history while the other one will remain where she is. I vowed to write more often to them both, and to myself vowed to let the requests for extras go by as I am led. After all, it is not possible to provide such sustenance to all who ask but is possible to offer a small comfort every now and again such as a few pieces of paper, envelopes, stamps and such.

Beyond that, I pray for more opportunities to help in my community. I am now involved in the church employment ministry and will help with training, resume writing, and coaching.

Personally, I pray to continue to walk the path set before me. I’d like to carve time to write (and do so in smidges — I have followed some writing prompt groups and other writers on Twitter). I’d like to visit my mom in the coming months. I’d like to introduce her face-to-face to someone who has become quite important to me these last couple of years; they have talked via phone, but of course that’s not the same, is it.

I want to laugh more. I want to see new things.

I want to grab hold of all that’s next and I want to ensure that I have myself situated in such a way that whatever it is turns out better than what has come before now.

How about you?

(2) Comments

  1. 2018 has been – by God’s good grace – more good than bad. Mind you, at my age, any morning you wake up to praise the Lord is a good morning.

    Sadly, we lost two people at church – a fourteen year old girl who inexplicably collapsed one Friday night at youth group and died without regaining consciousness. She had been in perfect health apart from a cough she developed a few days earlier. When an autopsy was performed, they discovered a grapefruit sized tumor between her heart and left lung. The second death was a young mother with a loving husband and four children between the ages of four and fourteen who succumbed to a deadly melanoma after fighting courageously for two years – both funerals packed our small church to overflowing with over a thousand mourners.

    2018 also saw me shed 35kg (77.16lb.) I still have 30kg (66.13lb) to lose, but 2019 will see that done and dusted.

    So as 2018 draws to an end, I send you this blessing for 2019:

    “The Lord bless you and keep you;
    the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you;
    the Lord turn His face toward you and give you His peace.”

  2. And to you as well, Lyn! So sorry to hear of the losses in your congregation 😢

    And do feel free to share your shedding secrets! I picked up some of what you got rid of … A good bit. Sigh.

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