Traversing the Terrain of 2023 

Because of the way our production schedule is arranged, the change from December to January always brings a new beginning. Some folks think of the year’s turning as a trifle – just another day. But for us, it summons a complete change in focus. After a week’s worth of holiday off, Mike and I join back up to start the next project: the upcoming issue of the magazine. This week, we’ve begun wading through Issue Fourteen’s articles and planning the cover shot. Each issue is like a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces first get laid out on the table and then we begin to sift and arrange them into a coherent order.

And that is what new beginnings are all about. Setting out without a plan may be exciting for a while but eventually the thrill of aimlessness wears thin. We are creatures who crave direction and order. Take your house as an example. Every house has walls to divide spaces. This gives definition and boundary. Through this enclosing action, we delineate utilitarian space from spaces of hospitality and both of those from areas of rest and privacy. The broom closet is not the hearth. And neither are identical to the bedroom.

Or consider the order that directs our furniture making. When we design a table, we create within real-world confines. There is a maximum and minimum functional height. There’s a reasonable limit to the tabletop’s dimensions. To appear balanced, the leg size must correspond to the top’s sprawl. Four-inch-thick legs will work for a conference table – not so much for a nightstand. All things must be in proportion. And all things must be situated in their proper context. Jigsaw pieces make up the beauty of the final portrait only when they find their place in the larger order. 

So, setting things in order is the first thing. We plot a course and head out, but as we go along, we observe and take notes along the way. When we are attentive to the journey’s unfolding, we will know how to navigate the unfamiliar terrain we traverse. Each year, as Mike, Grace, and I make plans, we have a rough idea of where we’d like to end up in twelve months. We have lists of projects to tackle, podcast topics to discuss, products to create, etc. We set goals. Goals for the business. And goals for our personal lives. This very morning, in fact, we had our annual year-end meeting and together solidified this year’s ambitions.

But the course will change as we go along. As we traverse and find surprises, we adjust. Some days, we realize that we ought to shift focus to that online course we’d been talking about making. Other days, we are drowning in email catch-up. And, as many days as possible, we are working on that glorious house project. We’ve been nearly full-time on that for most of 2022. We’re currently taking a break for a few months to produce Issue Fourteen. But then we’re back to the timbers.

So, we set out on 2023 with a plan and yet with a spirit of openness to things unforeseen. A book I read lately touched on the spiritual importance of identifying Divine fingerprints in every twist and turn of the journeys we set out upon. The author commended a “way of life…that assumes God is present and to be encountered in every moment, that is open and willing to be surprised, confused, or amazed by the extraordinary in the ordinary.” I am sure there will be many ordinary, planned events that unfold in 2023, but few will come without twists and turns. There is always variety in the order and diversity in the unity.



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