New Year, New Beginnings.
We are bombarded with diet plans, detox programmes, plan your holiday, declutter your home. Resolutions are made, goals are set but there is one thing we cannot control and that is life getting in the way! There is an age old phrase, "if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans!"
Some folk myself included have learned not to set new year resolutions because one can almost guarantee instant failure within a matter of days :-). Any dieter will tell you that to make a food out of bounds is to make that food suddenly desirable!
Magazines and the Internet exhort us to make this year the best ever and one popular theme is finding your word for the year. My word for 2015 was Hope. So no surprise that over the course of the year I was given plenty of opportunity to try and live that word :-).
I remember listening to a lady share her cancer journey and she wrote many words of encouragement and scripture passages and dotted them around the house. One such phrase was, " To hope means hoping when everything is hopeless, otherwise it is not a virtue at all. Hope requires us to look ahead and almost cast aside the mess in which we find ourselves. To fix our eyes on Jesus as the storm rages around us, so much easier said than done.
When Dave encountered an unexpected and scary relapse late on in the year, I knew that my only way of coping was to look for some semblance of joy in each day. As always I look through the camera eye and so began a series of daily blog posts and images that upheld me during the darkest moments. God knowing me through and through blessed me in so many ways and as the days rolled into advent my yearly participation in the DPP began. Sharing with others one photo and a comment for each day, not only documented the usual feasts of St Nicholas and St Lucia, gift wrapping and candle lighting but also the unprecedented rains, caravan cooking for friends and stories by candle light due to the power outage. Each photo a tangible memory of that moment in time and space.
It can be hard to remain positive during adversity but when we concentrate on lack we become depressed; when we are depressed we see the glass half empty instead of half full and suddenly we are dying of thirst. Some folk keep a gratitude journal. Can you keep a running list of giving thanks? Ann Voskampf did just that and wrote a book charting her journey. The thirteenth century German mystic Meister Eckhart believed that, " if the only word you ever said was thank you," it would be enough.
If however this year fills you with uncertainty and dread do not be discouraged. St Benedict in his writings always reminds us to begin again, this might be at the start of each day or several times throughout the day, which is often referred to as a do -over in our house :-). Jesus fell under the weight of His cross so that we might remember that it is the getting up again that counts!
Your challenge might be to live each day as faithfully as you can and to offer the sorrows and sufferings to God. No suffering is wasted as He takes all and in so doing weaves a beautiful tapestry unique to each individual. When you rise tomorrow ask, "What is the true work I am to do today?" Teach me O Lord to number my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom.
For when we take the time to not only offer our day to God but to ask for his guidance and open our hearts and really listen God allows the Holy in the commonplace. For me it was an unexpected oasis of peace on Christmas Eve ~ a God planned moment of not being at home cleaning and baking but a quiet moment at Leighton Moss RSPB cafe for a cappuccino! Last minute food shopping as well as card delivery to friends in Silverdale afforded this interlude. Sunshine, blue skies and no demands, God is the best physician :-).
Whether you are a planner, a dreamer or a take life as it comes person, be open to the Spirit within you. All change takes time and this is God's greatest gift to you at the start of this New Year; three hundred and sixty five never before lived mornings and starlit evenings, fifty two weeks of discovery, twelve months of growth and four splendid seasons. So as you enter into 2016 take the hand of your creator and "welcome this New Year of things never been."