I stood at my sister’s kitchen sink the other night, after we’d had a post-Christmas meal together. My family was there for one day, and we knew our time was limited. My mom put away the leftovers while I washed what I could, looked out the window, thought about what this new year might bring with it for us.
In the middle of the washing, the word outside popped into my head. I was looking out the window at the starred, cold-dark night, and I thought, this is it.
The #oneword365 movement is a beautiful one, because it’s not just about resolutions and starting over. It’s about choosing a namesake to re-define the next 365 days, to pour something of our souls into our daily lives in an intentional way, and Lord knows, we need it right now.
While we were home for that short holiday trip, we spent a lot of time with friends who value what it means to be outside– our friends who live on a farm with acres and acres of land showed us that a slow and steady, hard-working life brings a load of peace and quiet. I watched the yellowing grass in their pasture move in the breeze, and I knew that I wanted it for myself one day.
In 2017, I plan to go outside, as in, the noun, and I plan to be outside, as in, the adjective.
My dear friend Lindi reminded me that day at her farm of the Wendell Berry quote that says, “When going back makes sense, you are going ahead.”
So that’s what I’ll do everyday– go outside, to the trees, to the land, to that hammock in my front yard, to find what it means to live a little outside my own boundaries, to find fresh life and the Spirit and the sacred good.
But for now, we finish our years of schooling and working, continuing to fight for sacred spaces in our living and breathing. And in this stretch we make goals and sometimes reach them, and we keep processing and hoping and praying, because living on the outside of an everyday existence is to live fully alive to ourselves and the people around us.
For 2017, I hold on to the word outside and ask it to be a sort of namesake for me.
In 2016 I saw scales fall off of myself, and I stepped into places I didn’t think possible for who I am. But in those spaces, a unique otherness was found.
I find myself outside the boundaries of the conservative church I grew up a part of, and I discover daily that I am outside the bounds of white America as I become more intentional about living into my Potawatomi and Chickasaw ancestry and culture.
As my latest Enneagram test tells me, I’m someone who’s always stood a little outside the lines, defying what popular culture suggests of me. So for 2017, I’m asking how to faithfully walk a little on the outside of what I’ve known and been.
It will mean fighting fears and overcoming obstacles.
It may mean some awkward conversations and some late night prayers, and a whole lot of coffee.
But I trust it will propel me into deeper things and new experiences that grow me and change me and teach me that shifting, while it can be painful, is beautifully necessary.
So here’s to 2017 and to my #oneword.