I keep a calendar in my laundry room that is reserved strictly for recording little memories. It’s a practice I started a few years ago, when I was trying to pull myself out of the darkness of things not going so well. I haven’t kept one every year since then, but I’ve tried to do it more often than not. It’s like a mini family journal. I found one from six years ago the other day while cleaning out a closet. I flipped through and was amazed at how many things I had forgotten – good and bad and in between. So many small sweet moments were captured there that a scroll through a photo album or a mental memory scan would miss.
The thing about life is that it does go on – relentlessly. If you’re not paying attention, years you never get back can pass you by while you sit in darkness or spin in worry or wait for something else to happen. Your real life is now, only now.
Something I’ve noticed about myself is that when I’m busy trying to control my future, figure out my past, or am obsessing about something that just isn’t in my life for whatever reason, my life becomes consumed with everything but the actual living of my life and the calendar stays pretty blank. A whole month can go by without me actually engaging in it, neglecting to take even a few seconds every week or so to mark down something about the days that I’ve lived. A whole month can go by in survival mode, exhausted by the world in (and outside) of my head that feels out of control and overwhelming or suffocating and underwhelming or all of the above. You can numb yourself out with all kinds of acceptable things and miss your life, one month at a time. You can spend a whole month holding your breath and realize that the only thing you accomplished was giving yourself a headache.
November is blank on my laundry room calendar. November wasn’t a bad month. I just let it get away from me. Tonight, I’ll cross reference my planner and regular calendar as well as my Instagram and camera roll and I’ll fill in some of the blanks from the past month. It’s not as good as living and recognizing the moments as they happen throughout the week and month, but it’s better than letting them slip by completely.
December is already set to be busy. Basketball two nights a week with games starting mid-month. Family gatherings, Girl Scouts, Christmas parties, Christmas itself, and my daughter’s 10th birthday. I’m working in the school system this year, so I get that nice Winter Break, but I’ll likely fill most of it, picking up some shifts at the same place I worked over the summer, trying to fill in some gaps in the budget. There’s a concert I’d like to go to before a favorite music venue closes it’s doors for good. We want to take the kids to see Santa, we want to make a gingerbread house. I want to mail Christmas cards. We will finish Christmas shopping. We will wrap presents. We will make cookies for Santa. That Elf on the Shelf will move every blessed day, though he is not nearly as crazy or creative as some of his cohorts who live with my daughter’s friends. And of course, bills will be paid, phone calls made, budgets adjusted, fingers crossed. I will light my makeshift Advent candles. I will try to remember to read each day, from an Advent devotional (Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift), not because I have to, but because making an effort to pay attention to and practice Lent and Advent over the past few years has played a critical part in breathing life and bringing light back into my spiritual world.
I will fill in my laundry room calendar with all the things.
As December closes out the year, the New Year will come. Some years (too many), it feels as if I skid into the New Year just by the skin of my teeth, clinging to the coattails of that relentless movement that is time, out of breath, out of energy, out of money, out of everything – depleted and unable to look forward much at all. I don’t want any more of those years. I don’t think I have to have any more of those years.
I can not control the world around me (or even sometimes, the world inside me), but I can surrender it all in faith. I can make my faith a practice, something I purposely and purposefully engage in regularly.
I have devotion books and devotionals on YouVersion and SheReadsTruth. I have a prayer app (Abide) and a meditation app (Calm). I have podcasts full of fun and encouragement and interesting information and I have access via the internet and the public library and my own book collection of so many resources related to faith. I have pretty printed scripture cards and I have index cards with scripture scrawled across them, the ink fading over time. I have friends and family and church family scattered across a million theological and geological places. I have that sacred place inside me. I have my poetry.
I have this prayer, I will memorize and recite:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
— St. Teresa of Avila
I will get a calendar for the upcoming year. I will put it on my laundry room wall. I will fill it with a life I am remembering to live, by faith.