By Andrea Bridges

A Blessing for a New Year: Letter from the Editor

I have some news to share — this is my last week as Editor of The Well. Next week I start in a new position in the Graduate College of the University of Illinois. I have loved my time here and am so grateful to have journeyed alongside you all these past years.

In everything we do, Women Scholars and Professionals works to connect women to God and each other. I believe deeply in the power of words to connect us over time and space. By sharing our experiences we learn that we are not alone. By working through ideas in writing, our thinking becomes clearer.

It has been such a gift to connect with you through and over words. I am grateful to hear the ways God has called you and met you in your various callings. I am grateful to hear the stories of the things that are tricky or really, truly difficult. I am grateful to celebrate your accomplishments and joys.

Here are three things I want to make sure you know before I leave. Hopefully you have heard them at The Well before today, but just in case, I’m making sure.

You are so, so loved.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for you, for your life, for the world. Beyond your achievements or failures, you are indeed precious in his sight.

You are doing a great job.

You are pursuing God’s calling in your life in all of the many ways God has made you. You are working toward academic and professional goals. You are a friend and neighbor, maybe a parent, or a sister. You are doing your best to be the person you are made to be and are becoming. It’s so amazing to see!

We’d love to walk alongside you. 

Sometimes pursuing your calling can be lonely, or confusing, or just plain hard for a while. I hope that in this space you see that other people are doing this, and that you can too — but you don’t have to figure it out on your own. And when you have something to celebrate, we’re here to clang the bells and throw the confetti!

I recently learned about the tradition of Women’s Christmas. It’s a celebration that takes place on Epiphany (the last of the twelve days of Christmas) where women — who have presumably been making all the Christmas celebrations happen for all the people — take the day off to mark the end of the Christmas season. I love this as an official part of the celebrations. We do all the things, we celebrate, we cook, we live it up, and also we take a moment to pause and put our feet up before life goes back to normal. I wish this kind of marking of time for you as we move into a new season, and I'd like to share this blessing for the occasion by Jan Richardson that found its way to me this week.

The Shimmering Hours

for Women’s Christmas

There is so much
I want to say,

as if the saying 
could prepare you
for this path,
as if there were anything
I could offer
that would make your way
less circuitous,
more smooth.

Once you step out,
you will see for yourself
how nothing could have
made you ready for this road
that will take you
from what you know
to what you cannot perceive
except, perhaps,
in your dreaming
or as it gives a glimpse
in prayer.

But I can tell you
this journey is not 
about miles.
It is not about how far
you can walk
or how fast.

It is about what you will do 
with this moment, this star
that blazes in your sky
though no one else 
might see.

So open your heart
to these shimmering hours
by which your path
is made.

Open your eyes
to the light that shines
on what you will need
to see.

Open your hands
to those who go with you,
those seen
and those known only
by their blessing,
their benediction
of the road that is
your own.

The Shimmering Hours” by Jan Richardson from Circle of Grace


Photo by Bonnie Moreland on StockSnap

About the Author

Andrea Bridges works in the Graduate College at the University of Illinois. She is a former Editor at The Well and believes words can create connection over space and time. Andrea has an MDiv from Duke Divinity School and lives in Urbana, Illinois with her husband, Matt, three kids, and one dog. You’ll often find her in the garden or cheering at various youth sports.

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