I feel cluttered inside. Emily P. Freeman writes lists to clear her mind, and that’s what’s got me thinking about it. Freeman is very talented at taking Big Things and paring them down to simple statements. She makes things manageable.

Simple is not easy for me. In fact, simple is insanely difficult. It is easier to sit down and delve into the ethos of society, or the details of my grief, or the many, many particulars of our mid-renovation house. It is not easy to pare them down into anything smaller. I usually do not even know what smaller means. This is why Emily P. Freemans are such a beautiful gift to the world.

In the spirit of simplicity, and after reading Freeman’s own, here are some questions that I hope will act a little like poetry – slowing us down, helping us to think in concrete terms, and, by those means, making sense of the Big Things, too.

(This bright White Page is bearing down on me because this is not what we usually do here, in this space. But I will remind you, White Page, that you are not the boss here. If asking questions is what today calls for, then questions will be asked!)

And so, with that little aside done with, we continue.

What scene from this week struck you, made you slow down, stopped the constant buzzing of your mind?

Did anything happen this week that usually does not?

Was anything disappointing this week?

Where do you feel discomfort in your life (this can be physically or emotionally – something that just isn’t sitting right)?

What is something you are yearning for?

What is something recent that made you supremely happy?

When is the last time you felt at peace?

I know this world is a hard place. I know the earth is groaning, and that Goodness will only be concealed for so long. These questions aren’t panaceas, as we might sometimes want questions to be; but, if you need them, take them. Answer them freely and honestly. Share an answer with me, if it pleases you – and I will share one back.

A white-breasted hawk has been perched on the backyard burn pile for the better part of an hour. He’s waiting for a little rodent, burrowed underneath, to poke up its head for a sniff of fresh air, and then he’ll thrust himself down so fast upon it that the little life never even realizes the danger. The bird did take a five-minute respite. Flew off to one of the evergreens, perhaps, for a little rest, or maybe he was seen and needed to feign retreat. Either way, the diligent bird is back and mother has grabbed her binoculars for a better view.

The thing about writing, if you do it with any frequency and live with your eyes on the sparrow, is that you’ll inevitably feel frightened to sit down once in a while. Sometimes Hemingway is right, and blood does let out your veins and seep into the keypad.

Grief has been a heavy blanket lately. So many things, but a tender few in particular, have been making tissues out of the tossed masks in my car, and it has been raining inside as often as it has out. Someone was praying for me today after I had spilled my woes into her open arms. She prayed that the grief would “bolster our faith.” It was maybe the sweetest word she could have said. Bolster. Not only praying against the strong tide of doubt the world assumes will knock our frail figures over as it encroaches the bank, but also praying for a sturdier foothold at the crux of the tempest. A very sure rest on the Rock underneath, never failing or floating away.

I keep envisioning Jesus weeping with Lazarus’ sisters. I wonder if the women came back to that moment after Lazarus lived out the course of his second life. How many losses would that weeping comfort, in the years to come? It comforts mine now, and there is room yet for yours.

Peace to you friends. We have a God who weeps with us, and One who is making all things new.

Here is the future, on the eve of our newest present. It is helpful to come back to this again and again, and maybe most especially on the doorstep of a new year, when we are all expectant of something, though we rarely know exactly what.

This is it. The Bride will be with her Husband. Her eyes will behold the face she has longed to see. Light will warm her features; she will feel it dawning inch by inch, over her arms and shoulders, and the warmth will be kind and healing. She will weep, with gratitude and world-weary relief, the way a mother does at the end of a long and arduous labor, at the sound of her infant shaking a wobbling yell into the fresh, honest air. Life! At the pinnacle of pain and tiredness - life. These tears may fall in torrents, even - uncontrollable. The relief may shake her like an Autumn tree. But even these tears of tired joy will be gently wiped away, and this will be the beginning of everything.

The dawn of a new time will hover over the world like a fresh garment. Clean white linen hung to dry on the Spring line, warm from wind. The earth will lift its arms and receive it; it will dawn its dress and be new.

On this New Year, O reader, and, if we have the eyes and the ears for it, on every dawn until we sleep, I wish for you this vivid remembrance, which is, paradoxically, also our expectation. God has not forgotten us. He is coming for His bride.