As we continue to settle into 2018, Heather Casimere writes about how the Pacific Northwest’s wildness renewed her desire to pursue the work of healing and growth, and to commit herself afresh to her ongoing formation. Where will that take us, and who will we become, in this new year?

It’s not something we haven’t heard before, but some sayings find themselves reiterated time and again. I will relay one here, now: a New Year is a time of new beginnings. Many are glad to see an old year go and are eager to feel the hope of a new year descend upon us, like the dew drops which dance their way to the fertile ground of Seattle.

As we enter into this season of hope, this season of new growth, a single word has descended upon me: Afresh. Just hearing it makes me think of rain showers, renewal, and refreshment. A quick search shows this word to mean anew; once more; again.

As Seattle School students, we have spent the previous semester (or semesters) entering into the hard parts of our lives. We have intentionally begun to turn and face the sources of our pain and suffering. We have also, many of us, just returned from visiting our families and the communities from which some of our trauma has come. Over this last break, we have rested, we have been challenged, and we are more aware than ever of the ideas, places, and people which have led us to this point.

At the dawning of this new year, I returned to dewy Seattle and the work that has begun. Striding out of SeaTac, I found the mist hovering around the evergreens, which ever stretch their branches to the sky. The cloak of the trees was heavy, the glory of God full in them. I inhaled their wildness. It felt familiar. I was surprised to find myself releasing a sigh of contentedness to return to this dewy wilderness. I found myself relieved to continue this work, which reveals my wounds and cools its scars with a soothing balm. I find myself strangely excited to continue the healing that has begun in this place. I recognize this now: I have become wild.

Returning to the forest, there is an invitation to linger for a while in this word, afresh. With this word comes a challenge, even a calling. It presents an invitation to reflect on what was learned in the past year. It asks that we take stock of the new awareness each of us has stepped into through the work of The Seattle School, counseling, and revelation of the Holy Spirit.

As always, there are questions of challenge associated with new awareness. Will we turn from what we used to think we knew, thought patterns which weren’t working for us? Will we be open to new revelation which may appear in this new year? Will we continue to step into the truth of who we have been called to be, who we are, and continue to leave the lies behind? Will we begin afresh?

This meditation on a metaphorical raining down of dew over the first weeks of the year has made me hopeful. Hope may appear to be trite, but in actuality, hope is audacious. Hope is not piteous. Hope is a tenacious game-changer. I wonder what might happen if hope is embraced at the beginning of this new year, even as it asks us to turn from the old and look to the new. Perhaps in embracing audacious hope, as we upturn all the tables under which fear and lies hide, we might be renewed? We might be made anew; once more; again.