In Medias Res

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Seneca, Ancient Roman philosopher, 4 BC – 65 AD

Late in August, I heard the words spoken in medias res. Three beautiful, captivating words of Latin origin, literally translating to “in the middle of things.” I’ve carried the words with me everyday since.

I’ve always been drawn to books and movies not beginning with once upon a time, but rather the ones starting directly in the midst of the matter, the muck, and the mess. Right into the heart of the chaos. In creative writing the phrase describes the technique of beginning a story by dropping the reader directly into the action.

Unexplainably, these three words have helped make sense of this extraordinary year filled with days, weeks and months, now captured in memory, vignettes played out in full, high speed motion. From a steady breeze to gale force winds it seemed a giant attic fan was turned on in January and never stopped blowing on this year of 2022.

The year was a tapestry woven together of collective joys, blessings, opportunities, losses, disappointments, and sorrows. A year filled with celebration, condolence, congratulations, of healing and hope restored for me, my family, friends, colleagues and neighbors experiencing…

A beautiful baby’s September arrival. An announcement of a new baby next spring. An early miscarriage for another. Of blessed weddings and engagements, of first homes, new careers and changed careers. Of retirements. Lost jobs. Chronic illness for some. A dear friend’s unexpected diagnosis. A lifelong friend’s final curtain call. The loss of a young and vibrant hometown teacher—a friend and classmate. Of new loves, and the end of others. Of crossroads with treasured friends met years ago. Of meeting new friends and knowing immediately a friend they’d be. Of knowing a friendship will simply take a hiatus, but will not be forgotten. Of getting back on the road and journeying to visit family near and far. The threads of this tapestry continually expand and intersect, filling the heart in one breath and breaking it in the next.

The year possessed a steady undertow, a feeling of being all over the place in every which way and where possible. In thoughts, plans, communications, travels, the fan kept everything whirling. Called to one matter here and another there. Fragmented. Scattered. Untethered. Yet, such swirling was not always uncomfortable. I began to adjust to the buzz, mix and disorder. Jumping into the middle, leaving it before its ending, jumping into the next thing, and returning to the original thing, was the frenetic pattern of this year. The year felt floaty as if suspended by helium.

During the least expected times when a situation, person, or opportunity lands right in front of us we have choices. Move forward? Do something? Or nothing? Isn’t welcoming the unexpected, like a meteor falling from the sky, starting in the middle? It takes courage to jump into the middle without really knowing the backstory and certainly without knowing the future. But maybe the meteor was meant for you, though totally unexpected and not yet even in your dreams or thoughts. But yours for the taking and the honoring of its arrival.

With little to no time to process one piece of news, suddenly a next batch of news arrives. We have come to live in high alert, especially in the past two plus years, always at the ready anticipating what’s next, who needs something, what needs tending to in our own lives, with our people, in our communities and beyond.

May the months ahead offer a respite where the winter season’s longer darkness provides a chance to hibernate and refuel. May we trust that the light will return and we will find blessings and strength in the new year. May there be peace and balance amidst the chaos, in the midst of it all, in medias res.

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