Sheltering Light

You should see my journal. At the end of every year, I’m on the hunt for the perfect word. I want a word that represents exactly my hopes for the year. One that is both a hope and a mission, a desire and an assurance. I am *obsessed* with finding the right words.

My words (because I can’t limit myself to just one word each year!) of the year for 2022 were Plucky Stability. And they were perfect. 2022 was a year where I continued healing from my surgery. Where I applied for and received a new job, and was challenged in many new ways because of it. I sought continued stability for all that had felt like a giant upheaval in 2020 and 2021 in my life.

So what comes next? What would be the words chosen for 2023 as I (hopefully) exited a phase of life which revolved around one appendage, and entered a new decade?

I decided upon Sheltering Light.

When I think of shelter, I imagine a full canopy of trees with beautiful leaves waving in the sunlight which dapples the ground. Or I imagine a mother bird sheltering her young offspring gently under her wings in the safety of the nest. I see Psalm 91:4, “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge.” I want that in 2023. I want to feel safe, sheltered, protected, and guarded. Unfortunately, my home, which I hoped would be a haven has brought oodles of grief over my tenure here. My shelter has not felt very shelter-y. This was another reason the word sheltering was especially meaningful to me. My physical shelter may not always feel protective or safe, but there is a deeper security available.

And I long for light in every sense of the word. I long for light, enlightenment, radiance, and illumination. I want to understand why life is hard sometimes and how to keep going with grace. I want knowledge and wisdom. I want to see the light at the end of the “foot years” tunnel and emerge into a new phase of life. And I want lightness: the feeling of being unburdened.

I think that is where the words can come together. I want to feel guarded and safe by the Lord and for that feeling of shelter to allow me to have less burdens, worries, concerns, and heaviness in my heart. God’s light shelters my soul.

One famous and comforting passage to many is Matthew 11:28-30, which reads “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Yes, Lord.

Can we even imagine such lightness? Such rest for our souls? Most of us work tirelessly to complete our tasks, keep the plates spinning, and maintain the status quo. It takes courage to rest, to do less and experience more. That’s my hope for 2023: to feel sheltered, to feel lightness. To meditate on the ideas of the Lord as both refuge and delight.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
 They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
 For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light do we see light.

Psalm 36:7-9
Sheltering Light may be the perfect choice to represent my hopes for the year, but it sure is difficult to find one image to represent both words 🙂

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