By Lenora Rousseau
(Photo by Aaron Rousseau, 2018)
God’s love towards humanity and creation is inexhaustible. God’s merciful love extends towards creation and humanity with the dawning of each new sunrise. When all else fails, you can count on God’s unfailing love to lead you towards the life that is true life. (Paraphrase of Lamentations 3:22-24).
For many, the turning of our calendar from December 31st to January 1st brings with it a welcomed opportunity for new beginnings. Embedded within those new beginnings is the invitation to dream new dreams and cast new visions for the ways we might live more fully or wholly into the wide-open spaces of the months that lie ahead.
What is also true about new beginnings is the inherent invitation to grow or change in some capacity. This means that at some point - whether it’s in the first few minutes, hours, or weeks - we inevitably collide with whatever thought patterns, habits, or hang-ups had contributed to or motivated our need for change in the first place. When we do, we will have to make a choice. We can either give up and go back to the status quo, or we can trust that the Spirit who inspired our dreams and visions will provide solutions and resources that will help us brush off the dust and keep moving forward.
Those solutions and resources can go by many names. One name in particular that I have found meaningful in recent days is “new mercies.” And, thankfully, it’s not just in the turning of our calendars that we can experience the gift of “new mercies.” Each and every morning we are invited to re-connect with God’s mercy and grace that is sufficient for the day that awaits.
With this in mind, I have been captivated by the image of God’s mercies spread out on the horizon like manna – created to nourish, heal, strengthen, and sustain us one day at a time, in whatever quantity we need to satiate our souls for that day.
I invite you to just sit with that image for a moment… Let it ruminate in our soul.
As you do, allow me to add one other thought that has shaped my experience with the passage from Lamentations.
This past fall, I began navigating a series of significant changes in my vocational path and faced some equally significant hurdles (both internally and externally). Along the way, I kept recalling a scene from C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian in which Aslan (the Christ-like figure) arrives just in time to save Lucy from being captured by enemy soldiers. After they lovingly greet one another, Aslan asks, “Why didn’t you come to me for help?” Lucy responds, “I’m sorry. Why didn’t you come in to save us like last time? Aslan replies, “Things never happen the same ways.,.;, twice.”
This idea that “things never happen the same way twice” can certainly be applied to the ways in which God’s new mercies might greet us at each day’s dawn. Yet, how often do we go looking for God in the places or faces of those where we last experienced God’s mercy or grace at work in our lives? How often might we expect God’s mercies to keep showing up in the same way they did – as if the best we might hope for today is a recycled or repurposed version of whatever mercies sustained us yesterday?
Don’t get me wrong. Remembering God’s faithfulness in times past (our past or the ancient past) helps us to recognize and experience the fullness of God’s faithfulness and mercy in the present. In fact, the process of “remembering” is often how God opens our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and our hearts to believe that God’s love and grace are actively at work in our present.
With that in mind, as you navigate your way into a new year and a new decade, I encourage you to consider the role new mercies might play in helping you to live into whatever goals, dreams, or visions get you most excited about the days and months ahead. To that end, perhaps the following questions might serve as an examen and/or means of grace.
As you think back to New Year’s past, can you recall a time when new mercies - unexpected resources or solutions - helped you to reach a goal or live into a new vision/mission?
As you think about that experience, what sensations, textures, or impressions helped you to recognize the Sacred was at work in the provision of those new mercies?
As you think about the dreams and visions you have for the present/near future, what will you need from God to help you keep pressing onward in that journey?
What textures, sensations, or impressions bubble up for you as you consider those needs?
Are there ways that you hope new mercies might present themselves to you today?
Are there ways you might be resisting the new mercies that have presented themselves as solutions or resources?
How might you open yourself each day to more readily recognize and respond to new mercies as they greet you in new spaces or new faces?
As you sit with those questions or ponder your own, my hope is that will you have the courage to keep pressing onward with your eyes and heart wide open, expecting God’s love and mercy to show up (and keep showing up) in surprising and unexpected ways that will nourish and sustain you as you live into the life that is yours, and yours alone, to live.
Rev. Lenora Rousseau is an Elder in the United Methodist Church and serving by extension as the Founder/Program Director of Brilliantly You Virtual Wellness Center. In addition to this role, Lenora teaches a New Testament course as an Adjunct Professor with Florida Gateway College. She is also expanding her education as a Certified Spiritual Director-in-Training with Portland Seminary. In addition, Lenora is certified, trauma-informed RYT 200/RYT 500-Int. Yoga instructor and Pilates instructor. Lenora has had the privilege and joy of being married to Rev. Aaron Rousseau, a Chaplain in the US Navy, for almost 18 years. Together, they have shared in the adventures of parenting their three children - Gabrielle, Nathan, and Abigail. Having grown up in a Jewish household, Lenora continues to celebrate the Sabbath as well as other Jewish traditions with her husband and children. In her twenties, she found a spiritual home in Methodism. And in her early thirties, Lenora began to discern a call to ordained ministry. This led her to attend seminary at Asbury Theological Seminary where she completed a Master of Divinity. During her final years of seminary, Yoga became a vital part of her self-care as she sought to find practical ways to embody her faith and manage the stress of everyday life. After graduation, Lenora served as a Pastor in the local parish where she integrated her passion for wellness and vibrant living. Over the past year, Lenora has sensed God moving her beyond the walls of the local parish. With the development of Brilliantly You, Lenora is devoting her the majority of time and energy towards creating sacred space in the virtual realm where people from all walks of life can encounter the Holy and respond to that movement in ways that lead them towards greater wholeness and to make a difference in this world that only they can make. Find out more about Lenora at brillantlyyou.org