I just finished reading The Scar Project: Volume 1 by David Jay (THANK YOU, SARAH!). For those unfamiliar with the project, it was started by photographer David Jay a few years ago. This is its stated mission: “The mission is three-fold: raise public consciousness of early-onset breast cancer, raise funds for breast cancer research/outreach programs and help young survivors see their scars, faces, figures and experiences through a new, honest and ultimately empowering lens.”
The book has about 40 photographic portraits of young women and their scars. In the end, there are autobiographical notes by the subjects. As far as reading goes, it is short, but I wouldn’t say quick. The images and the words warrant your time as well as your emotions. I just joined a reading group where each of us are challenged to read 10 books this year. This seems like an appropriate first read of 2013 for me.
Starting a new year brings all the joys of new beginnings. There is hope in the newness. There is goal setting with a clean slate from the past. There is reflection. I have truly enjoyed the thoughtful things many of you have had to say as we witnessed one year end and another begin.
Yet in the midst of happy wishes, there are so many of you who are weighing heavily on my heart. After reading the last page of The Scar Project, I could not stop the tears from flowing. It was an emotive response from reading but also an outpouring from the aching for several whose new year comes with sadness and grief. Some of you have lost a father. Some of you find yourself widowed before 30. Some of you helplessly watch your young child fight the cruelties of leukemia. Some of you are in the dark valley of having lost your teenaged son. Some of you find deep joy mixed with sorrowful pain as you hold your beautiful new daughter in half-empty arms also meant for her twin. Some of you have a mother just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer to start off the new year. Some of you have the longing of parenthood still unfulfilled. Some of you are trying to simply survive chronic pain. All of you have my prayers and occupy my thoughts.
All of you out there have faced some of the major and minor difficulties of life. I feel the older I get, the more pain I feel whether my own or the collective trials of yours that somehow become my own as well. Sometimes life truly sucks. Sometimes I long for the innocence of childhood that this morning had elaborate character play with Trivial Pursuit game pieces.
When Mike and I discussed many of you over dinner last night, Ethan reminded us he was present in our conversation by uttering, “I’m really a lucky boy.” After we surprisingly turned our attention to him, he elaborated, “I’m not sick. I’m not homeless. I have a school to go to. I have food to eat.” While I’m crying rivers this morning, I simultaneously hear the boys laughing hysterically while repeating, “Then the farting nurse let out the biggest, stinkiest fart in fart history!” The start of this year has me reading nightly chapters of Wonder by R.J. Palacio (THANK YOU, UNCLE PETER & AUNT ROBIN!). Last night’s chapter covered August’s birth story, and that previous sentence that I have heard 100 times today. We are only a few pages in, but I already recommend it.
I have said it several times before, and it continues to ring true. Life is full of hardship and blessing. Just when the trials seem too staggering, it throws in a light of beauty. Who knows what 2013 will hold? I don’t know the details. I would bet that it will have its fair share of heartache and pain. I also know it will have its moments of glory and joy. I hope and pray that this year, whatever its mountaintops and valleys, makes us all more aware of the power of Love demonstrated through one another. I love the examples of this I see all around me whether it’s profound support in friendships or simple laughter over farts. Yet I will always still long for the day when all is made right, every injustice, every ache and pain, every wrong evil will be no more. This is reason to hope and celebrate the newness of each year. It brings us closer to ultimate newness when life will ONLY be the blessing. Happy New Year.