New Year

Heavy snow and ice shells on all the branches like frozen winter chimes when the wind blows.

Dressed up in warm woollen valenki, fresh air, tromping through the trees and hot samovar-warmed tea waiting for us at back at the dacha – a day in Moscow region was the perfect way to start the new year.

My favorite part was the quiet and the white, and the sinking back with no words into friendships that let you be just who you are.

Thinking about our first days of the new year – an icy walk in the woods and long evening around the fireplace with friends. We’re full and content after feasting on our time with them – savoring the comfortable silences and the slow turning of conversation – leaving small talk behind for the the startling gusts of what we’re really thinking about.

What is it that made the dacha meal and time so great? Our friend’s warm laugh and burnt-orange wool jacket. His girlfriend’s shy smile and the way she carefully arranges the pickle and salad plates like an artist placing tiles in a mosaic. It’s the way they look into our eyes and listen to us and give us their real thoughts from inside of them like a present.

They’re all here. With us. In the moment. 100% present, listening.

How do they do it?

My thoughts are always racing ahead, darting around, worried and kind of afraid. Or else they’re sleeping, avoiding and trying to tune the world out. Why do I do that?

Things slow down in Moscow after the champagne, fireworks and mayonnaise salads of Moscow New Year’s Eve. Everyone leaves on holiday or sits at home with family, watching cheesey pop concert reruns on television. The streets are quiet and the metro is empty – the electrichka’s hum distant on the wires outside and economist husband snores on the couch – exhausted and finally resting from his year of hard work.

I think of what I want to do differently in 2011 – what resolutions I want to make and which direction I want to move in. Eating healthy. Exercising. Diligence at work. Writing. Reading. Pursuing and valuing friendships. Prayer. Reading the Bible and letting it sink into me, making me a better person. Becoming less self-centered…

Thinking back to the dacha and samovar-warmed tea and Skype conversations with mom, and the post I read recently on The Only Place to Live, I know what else I need to seek in this new year. It’s what was really missing in 2010, and what I don’t want to go another year without.

I need more quiet, more slow, more savoring. More living in the moment instead of trying to cram future worries and past regrets into the present. There’s so much crowding up the now that I’m always in a hurry, always missing my life right now – the people, joy, food, work, light, gratitude and life that’s right in front of me.

I want to slow down and enjoy in 2011 – live each moment actually in that moment. Take smaller bites, bigger breaths, and look people in the eye.

As Ann Voskamp says,

I profane this moment when I won’t stay in it…

Be all here and be at peace… content… awake —- Alive. When I am mindful of this moment, the mind fills with God and the heart fills with peace and joy-thanks fills the prayers and isn’t the only way God can come to us is through the door of this moment? Here.

The flakes are larger now. Lingering. Their lacy edges entwine. This is the thing, the real thing of living —- Notice now: and you win joy. God is beautiful here.

I say yes to Him and the year of here and press my hand against the cool of the window.

Joy’s a snowflake on the sill — it lives only here in this moment.

So that’s the resolution for now. We’ll see what it brings in 2011…

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2 Responses to New Year

  1. Pingback: Moscow September | Breakfast in Moscow

  2. Pingback: March Weekend in Moscow region | Breakfast in Moscow

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