Happy New year

There is something quite wonderful about starting over, isn’t there?

Even if its something as contrived as turning over a new date on the calendar, marking the passages of life and time with a promise to try harder this time has some meaning, purpose, and value.

We just came through the season of Advent, a time of deep reflection and introspection.

We have endured the longest night and come out the other side once again hopeful that the light will return.

We have celebrated the incarnation of God’s love in the birth of a child.

The time is right for us to make new promises, renew old commitments that have gone stale, and wipe the slate clean on past transgressions. This isn’t merely wishful thinking, nor is it a quick fix to matters we would just as soon forget.

I think there is something deeply spiritual and fundamentally theological about this. Our encounters with the Sacred have always put us in touch with one whose love abounds, whose invitation to become something new is always present, and whose graceful, forgiving spirit has humbled us and instilled within us a desire to do and be better than – well, better than we have been.

Self-reflection and introspection that centers us on both the presence of that graceful Spirit of the Divine and on our own frailty, vulnerability, and shortcomings are gifts that help us make the necessary adjustments in life. And while it may be an arbitrary and contrived mechanism to pretend that every time the calendar changes the world suddenly becomes receptive to considering a new start, but really – who cares?

It works. Just telling ourselves to randomly think about making positive changes whenever we think about it is a way to pretty much guarantee it won’t happen. I have a basement full of promises I made to myself: a collection of unfinished businesses that I tell myself “I will get to sometime.” There’s that stained glass window that cracked that needs repair; the table saw and router I bought to do my wood-working with when I get to; the hammer dulcimer that wants me to tune it and learn to play it better. Day after day goes by without me once thinking about any of those – or the dozen other – things that sit waiting for me to remember and to create time for them.

So, let it be that every January 1 we evaluate. We itemize and inventory our life and discover something that calls us to new commitments, new growth, new promise and new possibility.

It works. Left to my own devices, I will often think that I should do that – but will almost just as often move on to something else with the promise to get that done some day. I like it that the whole world takes a deep breath together, looks at the changing year, and agrees to make promises.

Will they all be kept?

We know they won’t.

But come on – let’s do this. Walk into the presence of a loving, forgiving, grace-filled and hopeful Spirit of God – and pause. Breathe. Listen. And then play.

Make a promise. See a future. Accept the invitation to be, to do, to act, to think in  a way that opens up new horizons, new futures, new tomorrows. Let possibilities abound. And if you fail at it, at least you hoped. And you will get another shot at it next year. God will still be there. She will embrace every new promise you are willing to try.

Gentle souls, happy New Year. May this one open up for you roads of possibility and potential as yet unrealized. And may the abiding presence of the sacred fill you with hope and wonder as you continue your meanderings Into the Mystic.