From the hilltops not so far away, a new year calls. I see it there, waving somewhat furiously. I keep looking down at my feet, at the days piled beneath me, the ones I have already buried. Why so anxious to leave them behind? Mistake-ridden, bludgeoned with my battered attempts at life and love they are. That hill over there, shiny in the sunlight it may be, promises of fresh starts it may hold, is still just another hill made of dirt. And I am a dirt-dweller. I will inevitably get muddy, soil it with my refuse, make the fresh mound another burial ground of days I want to forget.
But there is a man atop that hill. He seems to be trying to speak, to get me to lift my eyes from the buried days beneath me, from the fear of treading badly on that hill across the way. He climbs the hillside with ease, and stands stop it, beckoning. All his words are backwards, and yet like drinking golden sunshine right to the tips of your toes. It makes me think how polluted the air all around me is. How easily I breathe poison and walk thin-blooded through my days. Like standing before the Devil in another hilltop story, where he whispered half truths that seemed so right, but the full-bodied wisdom of the God-Man set him straight.
I have clung to those Devil-whispered half truths on this mound of dirt. I'll take a promise, and be distraught with the lack of outcome. I look for the work of God in my heart, my life, my world, and despair at what seems lacking. But the Man over there, radiant but another world but with fleshy feet firmly on that dirt mound I too tread on, is saying the God-ways in this world are so much more full-bodied that what I see. And I'm looking for angels to bear us up, or for stones to be turned to bread, when the wisdom he speaks says there is more to promise than proclamation and outcome. There is living by every word from the mouth of God, there is worshiping God alone and not all your ideas of the good life or how he will show up. There is letting God be God and not putting him to your tests. And then, in the end, even after all your misconceptions are exhausted and you lie spent-- he does send his angels to care for you.
The ground beneath rumbles. This hill I stand on of all the past days shakes, about to break apart. I cannot stay here. But the air has cleared a bit. I'm no longer seeing only buried mistakes and bloodied attempts at life. There are holy footsteps on this ground, there is evidence of tilling. I think the Man over there is motioning. Take some dirt, say a blessing over it, believe that there upon it a Savior walked with you. Lift it up, like an offering, like a praise. Bend your knees on it, put your face to it, remember it like an act of worship, like a lament of faith, a hymn that in the grieving, believes.