Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Every year about this time, we come across a time of new beginnings. For those of us who have lived through a few of these new years, we tend to view them with less and less awe and excitement, and more and more world-weariness and boredom. We have been through quite a few years of resolutions in which we have failed. It seems almost that this ritual is mocking us.
The history of the New Year and its resolution-making is found in early Roman mythology in which the head of Janus, a mythical King, was placed at the head of the calendar year. Janus was a two-faced figure with one face looking back at the old year, and the other face looking toward the new. It was symbolic of our need to reflect on the events of the past in order to ‘fine-tune’ our future. What didn’t work? What went well? The first month of the calendar year was named after him – January. Of course, January 1 is not the new year for all cultures and beliefs. For Christians it is the season of Lent with its beginning on Ash Wednesday that encourages us to spend time in reflection, honing and fine-tuning our Christian walk. However, as Americans, January is certainly the beginning of the calendar year, and the beginning of January heralds a fresh slate if you will.
If you are very artistic and like to paint or draw, or even if you like to write, there is nothing more intimidating than a blank page. The freshness of the page lends to wanting to put something on it that has excellence ascribed to it. It seems sometimes that staring at the blankness of the page tends to blank out my imagination and creativity as well. If I am writing I must begin with something, even if it is garbage, before my creativity can truly flow. So, I plow fearlessly into that fresh white page with a bit of irreverence in my case, so I can eventually work toward something worth writing or painting.
We must tackle the new year the same way – by plowing right into it. Not with the anxiety that any resolution we make is doomed for failure, or with the false sense of expectation that we can set unrealistic goals and meet them, simply because we want to, but rather with the expectation that we have a fresh new year in which to fine-tune our future. What worked or went well last year? What did not? What did you not accomplish that you would like to work toward? How can you set realistic goals to attain these accomplishments?
As a pastor, I hope that a renewed sense of faith, commitment to God and congregation, as well as a purposeful spiritual growth is included in your reflections for the new year. May each of you have joy, wisdom, health, wholeness, faith, hope and love for your new year to come.
Grace and peace for the New Year!