I hope there ’s nothing symbolic or meaningful in the fact that the first day of my Big Hairy Audacious Year begins with a limp. Not just a limp, but a limp caused by dropping my laptop computer so that it’s narrow edge landed on my big toe, a big toe without a shoe to protect from the combined effects of gravity’s force smashing that newly-closed and so now more lethal than when it was more of a blunt object, sitting innocently on the dining room table. I closed it, unplugged it and as I prepared to put it in its case so I could take it to the church building to create a virtual service, it slipped out of my hands and made itself felt on my right toe.
I had been until that point operating efficiently: I knew the night before that I had a clean skirt and an unwrinkled top to wear, and I knew where my shoes were so I could slip them on before I walked out the door. My keys were next to my purse, I had found a lip stick, I was on my way on time and on point. And then the computer slipped out of my hands, and I spent 10 minutes sitting on a comfy chair with an ice pack on my toe to stop the bleeding, reduce any possible swelling and allow me to move on with my day.
If T.S. Eliot is right, “in my beginning is my end” as he says at the beginning of “East Coker” , then my Big Hairy Audacious Year may end with an accident caused by clumsiness, or it may end with me surrounded by love as I gave myself First Aid in a house filled with tokens of affection from my birthday – cards, a fruit basket, roses, leftovers from my birthday dinner.Or I will be moving forward with my life, despite any personal roundedness. It’s hard to know in advance what meaning I’ll find in this new year of my life.
T.S. Eliot says at the end of the same poem, “East Coker”, “in my end is my beginning.” With the end of my Big Hairy Audacious Month, comes the beginning of a Big Hairy Audacious Year. So far, the only audacious thing has been the color of my big toe after the computer did its work on it. So now, I have a Big (not)Hairy Audacious Toe. I ate less added sugar today, I have yet to drink an ounce of water but the day is not yet over. I had 29 things to be grateful for yesterday, so only 9, 971 to go. I’m too young to retire with my full pension benefits or receive social securiiy, but I do not want to work simply to accrue pension points or mark the time until I can collect social security. I’ve known pastors who have done it, I’ve known people in many professions who have simply endured in order to retire with the most money possible. There’s no shame in that. But I feel called to have a life, not just make a living. So that’s my Big Hairy Audacious Hope: to have a life, not just endure.
As my toe heals, and my spirit rests in Advent hope, I pray that you may physically, emotionally and spiritually survive these “interesting”times, but beyond that, I pray that you find life.
The first stanza of the first part of T.S. Eliot's "East Coker", and the last stanza in the fifth part of the same poem. I In my beginning is my end. In succession Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended, Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass. Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires, Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth Which is already flesh, fur and faeces, Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf. Houses live and die: there is a time for building And a time for living and for generation And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto. ... Home is where one starts from. As we grow older The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated Of dead and living. Not the intense moment Isolated, with no before and after, But a lifetime burning in every moment And not the lifetime of one man only But of old stones that cannot be deciphered. There is a time for the evening under starlight, A time for the evening under lamplight (The evening with the photograph album). Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter. Old men ought to be explorers Here or there does not matter We must be still and still moving Into another intensity For a further union, a deeper communion Through the dark cold and the empty desolation, The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning