I have always envied those brilliant blogging friends of mine who select a “Word of the Year.” Time and again, as I find myself scrolling through their beautifully written posts—most now several weeks old (apparently, not only am I incapable of matching the trend, I am also woefully late in seeking it)—I cannot help but feel oddly jealous.
They always choose such beautiful words.
Words like Fearless. Brave. Freedom. Breathe. Release.
There is so much encapsulated in each and every one. I would love to be able to point to one word and shout, “Here, at last, I have found it!” I would love to be able to look at the year unfolding before me and say with certainty that my word for this year is Hope or Courage or Peace.
To be able to do so would be at once exhilarating … and limiting.
I say this not to diminish in any way those who have found a word for 2016. I have simply come to realize that it is not for me. As much as I love the concept, I cannot bring myself to settle on just one. In the words of Brandon Sanderson, that master of taleweavers, “I’m a fantasy author. We have trouble with the concept of brevity.”
Why settle on one word, when you can have a thousand?
(And here my editor heaves a sigh …)
I have just come back from a short trip to Haiti and am struggling somewhat to reorient myself in normal life. The pressures of work, responsibilities, and commitments clamor about me, and yet a portion of my heart is firmly planted in that little island across the ocean. What words shall I use to describe my time there? I encountered so many things. Beauty. Sorrow. Brokenness. Joy. Life anew.
All good words. All true.
But if I were to give one word and one word alone to that trip, it would be Communion. For it was in the mountains of Haiti with the sun rising over the sprawling countryside before me, and the sounds of a waking village behind—goats bleating, roosters crowing, motorcycles sputtering, and pots clanging—that I experienced some of my closest times with God.
They call it a mountaintop experience for a reason, and coming down from the mountain is always a challenge. True to form as a fantasy author, I cannot help but picture that scene from the Silver Chair where Aslan has just been teaching Jill the four signs. They are in the mountains of his country. Before bidding her farewell, he warns her that remembering is easy on the mountain where the air is clear, but down in the valley, the air grows thicker, and remembering will become much harder.
Already I can tell that the air in my valley is thick with distractions. So much busyness, so much rushing around, so much to strive after. Perhaps Remember would be a good word for this year.
Or perhaps simply Trust or Follow.
Or Wait or Rise.
I am beginning to like the idea of a thousand words instead of one.
The year sprawls before me, like a wild and uncharted sea. I cannot speak to what lies ahead, nor would I wish to. But I can speak to what lies behind and the ways that the Lord has strengthened and upheld me in the past, guided my steps, and showered me with blessings.
Who knows what words I will have collected by the year’s end?
So whatever may lie ahead, may I say as David said, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14)