"Put off your old self."
I have had my eye on those five mums in Brooklyn on the street for about two months. One, in its prime, was golden, the other red, a third gold and red, a fourth a kind of purple and the fifth a plain old mauve, the kind I already have. Then on Christmas Day, I realized they were still there, dead in that way that mums die after blooming: dry, all color drawn, half green and half brown. I decided the mums were orphans and that I could take them. Now they are in my backyard, ready for their Easter. I hope the mauve surprises me enough to help me give thanks for the colors I already have.
How to put off your old self and put on a new one? It is not as easy as changing clothes or making New Year's resolves. It has to do with walking the same street but in a different way. It might be as easy as looking around for what others have left behind or adding what others have abandoned to your own repertoire or costume or garden.
Do you miss kindness in your life? Become kind. Do you miss tenderness, a touch on your shoulder after a hard day? Touch someone's shoulder. (Make sure you have permission.) Do you miss adventure? Do something you've never done before. Do you miss justice? Howl for it at the next full moon. Make sure someone in Congress is listening.
And all the while you are tying yourself up with New Year's Resolutions, imagine that you already are a pretty good person, always ready for a Resurrection, but also full of color and life. Notice who you already are. Notice what you already have. Appreciate it. Then put on a new self.
O God, release us from the personal oppression of New Year's resolutions as performance art and join us to a resolve that replaces what we miss. Amen.
About the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Check out her blog, Grace at Table, at donnaschaper.com.