Where Love Abides

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I ring in each New Year with a reflective practice I learned from a mentor. While my mentor practices this on a weekly (or perhaps a daily) basis, I’ve found this meditation a helpful way to re-center myself at the end of each year. It’s a way to reset and commence a new season by giving thanks where gratitude is due, seeking forgiveness where hurt is present, calling on peace when the future is uncertain, and inviting hope when the light is dim.

Forgiveness:

There’s a box I keep that’s filled with unpleasant things like loneliness, unbelonging, bitterness, insecurity, a lack of charisma, and the regret of a life lived clumsily. Every unfortunate encounter I have had and every hurt that I’ve felt is promptly shoved into the Box of Unpleasant Things, and stored away for good.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to be kinder to myself. Life is messy and that’s okay, I keep telling myself, hoping that the mantra will sink into wisdom. I give myself grace to mess up and fail, to scrape a knee and have a bad day.

And perhaps the mantra is slowly transforming into wisdom because now when I look in that the Box of Unpleasant Things, I don’t see unpleasant things. I see a fragile little girl I hid away, one who’s frightened and confused and is trying her best.

So I look at that fragile girl in the eyes with all the kindness she deserves, and whisper, “Life is messy and that’s okay,” and I pray she forgives me for being so harsh. Then I add a sprinkle of Mary Oliver for good measure:

“Therefore, dark past,

I’m about to do it.

I’m about to forgive you

for everything.”

Thankfulness:

I often think about the forgotten women I come from, the women who have passed on and the women whose words, prayers and deeds have made me who I am today.

I wonder what their names were, what their voices sounded like, what made them smile, and what broke their hearts.

I wonder if they minded the patriarchy they faced. Or if they had unfulfilled dreams. Or what they’d think of me. Would they think I’m a wild child who’s too independent for her own good? Or would they think I’m a frightened young girl who needs to push her self-made boundaries and dare to reach the stars?

I am who I am because these women did everything they could to feed and clothe and pray for their offspring. Each generation wished for more blessings and prosperity and love for the next. I stand on the backs of sacrificial mothers and daring daughters. I bite into the sweet, ripe fruit of their labors. I sip the overflowing cup passed from generation to generation with delight and gratitude.

Peace:

I am a puppet of fear. My movements are orchestrated by the Geppetto of doubt. Sure, the only certainty in life is that it’s all uncertain, but in my inexperience and youth uncertainty invites anxiety, cloudy eyes, and rash decisions. Uncertainty takes up the entire table, leaving no room for the possibility of joy and love and all the beauty the world is capable of.

When I feel lost into the whirlwind of uncertainty, I close my eyes and invite Peace, the deep, calm and wise force, to the table. Peace doesn’t dismiss fear, doubt or anxiety. Rather, it empowers to see the world for what it is—chaos and structure, pain and love, life and death. Peace gives eyes to see it all, and strength to still say, “It is well.”

Hope:

I keep hope for last. I can never arrive here until I’m able to forgive what’s holding me back, give thanks to who or what has blessed me, and made peace with my misty future. As a glass-half-empty kind of gal, I struggle to hope for a better tomorrow when today’s suffering seems endless.

As of Monday, reports show that the Syrian military forces have gained control of 98% of Aleppo. Civilians are sending their last messages and final goodbyes through social media as airstrikes continue to shell out the last few pockets of the fallen city.

Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.

How do you forgive the transgressor and those who passively sat by? How do you give thanks when life’s final hours tick? How do you find peace in the midst of terror? How do you call upon Hope to come be the center of it all?

I don’t know.

I’m still working through it all. I’m reading the Christmas story over and over again, hoping to remember once more how God responds to it all.

But this I know with all my heart—at the center of forgiveness, thankfulness, peace and hope, Love abides.

It is Love, the wild and magnificent one, who quenches all thirst, awakens the drowsy, energizes the weary, and revives the broken. It is Love who can open our eyes and who calls us by our name. It is Love who, at the end of day, leads us back to forgiveness, thankfulness, peace and hope.

I meditate on forgiveness, thankfulness, peace, and hope because I want to find Love again, and let Love find me again.

SheLovelys, as you enter the New Year in few weeks, may you find the time and space to give thanks, offer forgiveness, seek peace and invite hope. May you find Love all over again, and let Love find you once more.

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Leah Abraham
Leah is a storyteller + writer + journalist + creative + empathizing romantic + pessimistic realist + ISFP + Enneagram type 2 + much more. She lives in the Seattle area where she works as an education reporter and features writer. Bonus facts: She loves the great indoors, hates to floss, and is obsessed with Korean food and her dorky, immigrant family.
Leah Abraham
Leah Abraham

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  • Thank you, Leah. I will be sharing this — it’s so helpful and intentional.

    • Leah Abraham

      Blessings, Michele!

  • Helene Burns

    These words are still causing tears to roll down my cheeks at this very moment…
    ‘I often think about the forgotten women I come from, the women who have passed on and the women whose words, prayers and deeds have made me who I am today. I wonder what their names were, what their voices sounded like, what made them smile, and what broke their hearts.’ I too have so much gratitude for these women – I know that their hearts and their prayers have carried me here. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for them.

    This is such a true gift to us all.. I will be using the wisdom and strategy you share in here personally and I will also pass it on to others. SO, SO good….

    Merry Christmas Leah xo

    • Leah Abraham

      Oh, I’m so glad to her that <3 Shalom, Helene.

  • oddznns

    Thank you so much for this lovely meditation.
    I love how you ask the frightened young girl to forgive you.
    How you are grateful for those who went before.
    How you hope… still and still.
    I am grateful for you piece, today.

    Peace

    • Leah Abraham

      I’m so glad. Shalom to you <3

  • Thank you for this blessing, Leah. Remembering the Love that is at the core of this creation groaning is indeed what sustains the hope and forgiveness, peace and thanks. I’ll be using these prayers as a way to intentionally end the year.

    • Leah Abraham

      Much love to you, Annie <3

  • “Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.” This is my prayer, too, when other words elude me in the face of dark, heavy things. I don’t know how to stay centered on hope, either. But I know that intentionality in trying to work through all of it helps. Thanks for an invitation for us try to get back to hope along with you.

  • Matt Dyment

    Your craft is moving towards greater depth and insight my friend. It still drips with beauty and wonder. Thanks for sharing this timely reminder. I miss having your presence in my life and on campus … though each time I walk by the tree with style at the top you are remembered.