The new year is coming.

And the old will softly slip away to sleep.

I have a bed time habit I’ve inherited from my dad.

Every night, before I turn out the last light, I walk over to the window. In the summer they’re usually wide open anyway. But in the winter, even when they’re sealed up tight against the snow and the ice, I crack at least one open. And I stand on my tippy toes and stick my face out into the cold frosted air and breathe deep. I breathe as much of the cold and fresh and night into myself as I can.

My lungs expand with the newness of it. The revitalizing freshness.

I’ve done this for years in every country I’ve lived. I’ve breathed deep over the Pretoria nights and drunk in the smells of jasmine and veld fires and the sounds of the frog choir in the summer. In midwinter in Kyiv I’ve craned neck out of balconies and sniffed at the streets below, the soccer crowds on their way home, and the sounds of conversation I can only half understand.

In Michigan the nights smelled of pine and frost and damp earth. Corn on the stalk and combines revving up to meet it. And in Virginia there’s a winter freeze in the air that makes even DC evenings smell of cool and calm and a blanket of fresh promise laid out in white.

In and out I breathe and let the day that was wash through me and the day that’s coming start to open up inside me. I breathe and the air around about me becomes the air inside me and filters into my bloodstream, becomes breath and life, in and out and again. I am made new.

Tonight I will crack the window open to a new year.

I can still smell the old as it whispers outside my window full of growing pains and the lessons it blew through me. But the new smells of grace and life and is sweet as it fills up my lungs with the promise of God with Us.

God with US.

In the old as much as in the new.  The sun will set on one year and rise again on a new and it is all one day to Him. He is both in it and outside of it. And He holds it altogether.

And I breathe in His grace until my lungs feel like they will burst with it. And I must exhale before I can breathe again. But there is always more waiting.

He is already there. In the new year. Waiting for us.

I can smell it on the air.

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