The New Year. You gotta love it. Saying good-bye to anything and anyone even remotely unpleasant from your year and in a flash, in a matter of seconds, in a couple of bubbles swirling up out of your champagne, you call out five… four… three… two… and it’s over. A whole entire year will cease to exist ever again and a new one is upon us.
It happens that fast.
Some things in life happen like that. Some things occurred so quickly we forgot to breathe or so fast that we didn’t get a chance to get everything said or done and then suddenly, there’s no going back. The moment’s gone, the situation has changed, the people aren’t there any more. Good and evil happens quickly sometimes and there’s no going back to change it.
Other things happen much more slowly, like forgetting. For as fast as 2007 leaves us and 2008 ushers us in, the events or people we wish would disappear, we wish would finally dissipate like the last embers of a fire, truthfully still remain. They’re still burning and heating and giving light to what we may wish was the darkness of a closed door, and even if they don’t, the ashes still remain, diligent as we may be to sweep them under a rug.
As fast as the clock’s hand ticks over to 12am, life generally transitions much more slowly. For while events may happen in a second: “You’re fired.” “We’re pregnant!” “Happy 40th Birthday!” “She passed away,” the repercussions of those seconds may last a lifetime. And the clock keeps on ticking whether we want it to or not.
And so while in life oftentimes we get a chance to begin again, we also get the chance to put to rest what caused us to begin again in the first place.
With everything in life, there are doors opening and closing, sometimes so many and so often, we can’t keep track of where we are and often I don’t wonder if I’m in one great big revolving door.
The birth of a child is a beginning of a new life and a closure of the type of life the mother lived before. A new job means less free time. A lost job means more time for reflection. A new pet means more trips to the pet store and more trips to the Vet. A new hobby means a financial cutback elsewhere. A new boyfriend means fewer outings with old friends.
Doors open and close and slam shut and creak open and swing on their hinges to the point that sometimes I can’t tell my beginnings from my endings. What gets left behind and where do I start again?
That’s why I like holidays like New Year’s. It forces one to stop. Reflect. Not go to work, but instead to celebrate. Not to participate in the mundane of every work week, but to interrupt it with cause for reflection. Holidays force us to alter our schedules and in doing so often force us to alter our egos as we pause to examine ourselves and our lives and realize, maybe something needs to change.
Maybe I need to watch what I eat.
Maybe I watch too much TV every night.
Perhaps I should call my parents more often.
Why do I rely on other people’s spirituality to get me through life?
What if I stopped being so co-dependant, and tried taking my own initiative?
I like holidays because sometimes they afford us the opportunity to slow down the clock, examine ourselves and perhaps even, start over.
Beginnings. They’re scary, but refreshing; overwhelming, but exciting.
In the beginning before there was land or water or the sky or sea, God made the heavens and the earth. Then God made humanity, and it was good. In the beginning, before there was a manger or a mother or shepherds with their sheep, there was a genealogy, there was a preface, there were the people who brought us finally to the birth of a child, to a new beginning to a new goodness.
Who brought you to where you are today? Who went before you and opened doors that you could walk through them? Who walked beside you in the past, and who walks beside you now? Who in your genealogy defines who you are?
In the beginning there were shepherds and astrologers, familiar faces and foreigners who chose take their story and begin again with Christ at the center of it. In that beginning they chose to worship and they chose to go home another way. How have you reacted to encountering Christ, to hearing the story and experiencing the wonder that is a God who became a human?
In the beginning there was nature to enchant us. Kindness to humble us. Peace to center us. In the beginning as children maybe, we might have called those things God. As teenagers they might have told us that was God. As adults we have to choose to believe that is God. Over the years we might have called those experiences science, a stretch of the imagination, hormones even. But what in the beginning brought you to God? What continues to enlighten you to the grace of God now?
What happened in the beginning that needs to be remembered?
How do we need to begin again?
Maybe I should watch what I eat.
Maybe I should watch less TV.
Maybe I should call my parents more often.
Maybe I should stop relying on the spirituality of others to make me feel better.
Maybe I should stop being so co-dependant, and make up my own mind for myself.
Or maybe we should remember. Remember the beginning when God created the world and it really was good. Remember who came before us to light the way… Abraham and Isaac and Rehab and Ruth and the shepherds and the Magi and President Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt and Gandhi and Rosa Parks and my grandparents and my parents. All of them in their imperfect states, finding perfection only in Christ, laid the path for me to be here today.
Maybe we need to remember where we came from – that we came from God, a gift to the world. We came from the creator of the all things to participate in creation. We came to save the world, just a little bit at a time, even as God is little by little saving us.
Maybe we need to remember that life is a process – that we are always in transition. That as many doors as we would like to shut and lock, life doesn’t always work like that and metaphors will never adequately describe how life actually is. We need to remember that when life is hard, God is present and when life is amazing, God is present. And that through all the transitioning and processes and beginnings and endings one thing remains the same: God is always with us. Emmanuel. God with us. Imago Dei in us.
Beresheth January 3, 2008