And so another year begins. Each of us has reason to hold 2017 in either joy or sorrow. Many I know, myself included, found it to be a difficult year as we shared in daily doses of turmoil, confusion and what I would name as mean spiritedness in our world. Others most likely saw and encountered it differently. While this experience in this particular year is probably not unusual in the grand scheme of things, this year felt different to me to the point that this new year arrives with more heightened expectations. Are you up for it, 2018?
I love that the New Year of 2018 arrived held by a full moon…a Super Moon. Did you see it? Our very cold temperatures and clear sky allowed its spectacular beauty to shine into our windows last night. I stood for some time just watching the spill of its light on the icy, frozen white of the backyard. Noticing how its rays overshadowed the many twinkling lights still dancing from Christmas, I smiled at its power and inspiration for all the light we seek not only at this time of year but also in all seasons. This Super Moon begins January, this new year in which we place our hope and another Super Moon will be seen in our night skies on January 31st. For this first month of the new year we will be held between two glowing orbs whose presence is closer to our horizon than normal. It’s something to think about and something to take comfort in. What Light can we absorb and reflect back to the world being held as we are in the bookends of this phenomenon?
Over the last few weeks much has seemed to be upended. There was the normal infiltration of trees and decorations and gifts piled into the spaces we try to keep in some kind of order to allow us to make sense of our work and our lives. This addition of ‘stuff’ is heartwarming and beautiful allowing traditions to be lived out. It can also feel as if our spaces contract making less space for moving around the stage of our life-play. Yesterday, as we took down the tree and put the decorations away, I felt a relaxed opening as more room was added for moving around and things got returned to their usual spots in our house.
In our offices at church, during the days leading up to Christmas Eve, painters moved in and began to paint hallways and offices. Pictures were removed from walls, chairs were in the hallways, as these young men gave our office spaces a fresh coat of color to enter the new year. I laughed at the upending of it all at such a busy time of year. What was the meaning, the metaphor of this kind of insertion of upset of our daily playhouses?
And it wasn’t just the physical spaces that got upended in these waning days of the year. In my life and the lives of those I love, we have lost people to death and accident and illness which was heart-breaking and unsettling. All the ways we normally structure our every day and our holiday celebrations were altered and we needed to find new ways of walking the path toward a new year, of finding joy amidst sadness. Some years are like this.
And yet, Christmas Eve came as did Christmas Day. We gathered for worship and celebrated the birth of Jesus. We sang the familiar songs, lit candles and stood in the glow of their flickering light. We greeted those we see often and those that traveled from far away. And now the New Year is upon us. There will be need for cleaning up, for throwing away, for letting go, for holding on, for beginnings and for endings. There will be order and there will be chaos in this unfolding of another 365 days. We will make sense of some of it and be confounded by much of it. We will trust that the One who breathed us into being walks every step with us.
And we all have a fresh coat of paint and two Super Moons to light the way. I’m ready. Are you?
This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.