Contemplation for a New Year
The beginning of a New Year provides opportunity to consider at the outset of the year what we hope the year will hold for us, recognizing that what the year holds for us will be affected significantly by what we put into the year.
In January, the year is young, so it is worth considering something Sydney J. Harris once wrote to young people. He said, “Young people searching for their ‘real self’ must learn that the real self is not something one finds as much as it is something one makes; and it is one’s daily actions that shape the inner personality far more permanently than any amount of introspection or intellection.” Likewise, what we get out of this year will not be so much what we find but what we make through our daily actions. So what will you make of this year through your daily actions?
Mark Buchanan put it this way: “Wise people ask, Does the path I’m walking lead to a place I want to go? If I keep heading this way, will I like where I arrive?” Where do you want to end up at the close of the year? Will the way you are “heading” get you where you want to arrive?
When I contemplate where I want to end up, I am stirred by the apostle Paul’s words in Colossians 3:12-14: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
I want to end this year more like the kind of person Paul describes here. What will it take from me during the year to get there?
Most of all, I will need to love.
Geoff Gorsuch remarks, “The question to ask at the end of life’s race [or at the end of the year] is not so much ‘What have I accomplished?’ but “Whom have I loved, and how courageously?” The key to becoming the kind of person Paul describes in Colossians 3:12-14 is not to accomplish more but to love more courageously. How might I do that this year?
C. Hoppe adds, “I hope that my achievements in life shall be these—that I will have fought for what was right and fair, that I will have risked for that which mattered, and that I will have given help to those who were in need, that I will have left the earth a better place for what I’ve done and who I’ve been.” To love more courageously will involve fighting for what is right and fair for people, and risking for that which matters, and giving help to those who are in need.
A Swedish proverb, that makes a rather good New Year’s resolution, sums it up well: “Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.”