“And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone, and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed: just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with Him. Then you will be able to rest in Him — really rest — and start the next day as a new life.” – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Night has come on this year of 2020. I look back, and “fragmentary” can barely do justice to what has passed. There’s a video on my phone of rehearsal footage that was taken the final day we were in the ballet studio before the world locked down. I save it because that girl in the video lives on an earth that no longer exists. “What would I tell her?” I ask myself as I see this dancer rolling on the floor and being lifted by a partner, something which I can only dream about today. “What would I say to this kid who thinks she’s coming back to the studio in two weeks and hasn’t even realized that she isn’t going to Mass the next day?”
I could never have actually told her about what was coming. She wouldn’t have believed me about the livestream Masses, the kitchen chair for a ballet barre, the family huddled around a computer screen watching a Pope stand alone in St. Peter’s Square. She couldn’t have fathomed the trucks holding bodies in New York City, the hatred for mankind on display for the world to see, the nationwide collapse of mental health. I might have told her about the murder hornets though. Because there’s no way she would have bought that.
No, I would have spared her the details and just told her what I tell myself in this new year: Keep your eyes fixed on Him.
Even when that phrase feels like a slap in the face as you squint at a white circle on the Facebook Live Mass. Even as you forget the sound of real human voices and not the clinky echo of Zoom. Even when every plan you had for senior year falls apart and every theater you hope to dance in one day remains locked. Keep looking at Him.
Keep looking at Him hidden in the tabernacle outside the church window. Keep hearing His voice hidden in the birdsong that plays outside your bedroom window every morning. Keep looking at Him in the family you have extra time with, in the teachers who are still pouring themselves out for you in virtual classes, and in the community who still supports you, even if it’s done with the awkwardness of Praise and Worship over Zoom. As your bitterness rises when you do another plie in your living room and as your heart is shattered when you leave the Zoom meeting and find yourself alone in your room once again, shift your eyes to Him. Don’t stop looking at Him.
Because if you continue to look at Him, you will see the restoration He promises. You will see the joy return one day. You will find yourself in a studio once more and even performing in that final studio production you never thought could actually take place. You will get to see your friends and family again, not over a screen but in real life. You will get to say those goodbyes before moving and even embrace the people you love. And you will see His hand in it all.
I look back on this past year and recognize how fragmentary my desires were last January. I see all the ways that I fell and doubted and wasted time. But next to the pieces of myself that are left in fragments, I see His faithfulness. Now more than ever, I prostrate myself before the One on the throne who says, “Behold, I make all things new.”1 Even as He crushes and immolates, our God leads so faithfully. How can I not trust Him?
I will put all the brokenness of this past year in His hands. I will also return the glory and beauty that He has created, trusting that everything I surrender over to Him will be returned in the hundredfold. And with my hands completely empty and eyes fixed on nothing but His Eucharistic heart, regardless of the means of Adoration, I will let Him take my hand into His. I will let Him lead me to whatever end. I don’t expect to be safe, because He’s not safe. But He is good. He’s the King, they tell me.2 Whatever this new year brings, I can rest in His sovereignty that delights in my littleness.
Happy new year, friends! And goodbye, 2020 (*starts headbanging to “Goodbye Toby” from The Office*).
1 Revelation 21:5
2 C.S. Lewis, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”