Last year, at the beginning of 2012, I gave myself the word “build.” I promised it was a year to build – to build on the new person I wanted to become, to protect and grow a dream of writing, of loving other people in words, of advice offered in letters like Sugar, a dream of a bolder, freer Hilary. It was the beginning of it all, I stated boldly. Now build.
And I find myself back at another beginning today. My hands are full of dreams, just like last year. They spill out around me like ribbons escaping their spools – looping and spinning, brightly colored, almost invisible in their lightness. They sound like England and graduate school and Starbucks coffee dates and maybe someday I’ll write letters to strangers and pour out love to them even though we’ve never met. They sound like the quiet nights of practicing sign language and praying for my friends far away. They sound like that tattoo of an empty birdcage I always wanted, the one that whispers “from grace, freedom.” They sound like drinking wine with the people I love, like laughter loud and echoing across a bar or an empty office or a path through the woods.
My head is full of questions, just like last year. And this year, I have new answers.
Why do our hearts have to break? I tell you the truth, that only in the breaking open do we find love sufficient enough to carry us forward. Only in the heart widened by pain and surprise and change (sudden or long-expected), can grace sound its sweetest chord.
Why do we have to do awful obedient things? Because we belong to something bigger than ourselves, and sometimes it calls for putting aside what we want. It calls for us to set apart some of what we wish we could do or say or have, and instead tell the truth. Even when the truth means an ending. Even when it means a fight. Even when it means an unknown outcome.
Why do we dream so big? Because we are a people caught up between the fleeting beauty of the snow that melts tomorrow morning and the eternity of the love that did the dishes for you last night. Because we are always torn between seeing everything we cherish dissolve before us, and knowing that all we love is never lost forever. Because in the big dreams, we love each other and this world better.
What do you want to build? I want it to be a great unfolding, this next year: I want to build a nest for you. I want to spend 10,000 hours listening and another 10,000 growing wings next to you: in writing your stories and pondering questions together. In declaring that love is brave. In whispering that you are lovely, just because you are. In 10,000 hours of harvesting the light for each other and cupping it in our palms, 10,000 candles to mark our way forward.
So this is the way to begin again: with 10,000 candles and a million questions and a big dream to love.
And the word is light.