“Should auld acquaintance be forgot”…
Over the last few days I have seen two different articles trying to dissect the words of the song we sing on this night…the final night of the year. For as long as most of us can remember, this is the song with words by Scottish poet Robert Burns has capped one year and sent us head long into the next. Whether it is sung with friends at a large party or quietly watching the ball drop on television, it is music that becomes the soundtrack for entering the promise of a new year. Perhaps it is only fitting that we don’ really understand the meaning of the old Scottish words or that we, at least, struggle to find a home for them in our mouths. We are, after all, walking into unknown territory as we step into 2016.
By now many of us have begun making mental if not actual lists of ‘resolutions’…those things we want to change in our lives or add to our lives or subtract from our lives. Have you noticed the uptick of weight loss commercials on television? The lure of ads for joining health clubs? Since losing weight is the number one resolution of most people, the world of advertising knows our weak spots and is ready to slip right in. May those who have the goal of better health for 2016 find ways to be successful and may it open doors to greater happiness and more joyful living.
As I have thought about this approaching new year, I have been stumbling once again over the word ‘pilgrim’ in several things I have been reading. It is a word, a concept, that draws me in. Ever since I heard the poet David Whyte say that the one thing we humans share in common is that we are all pilgrims, I have been infatuated with this small but powerful word. Pilgrim. Are we not all beginning our walk as pilgrims into the new year of 2016?
Having been blessed to lead a few pilgrimages, I know that being a pilgrim has certain expectations. A pilgrim commits to the road knowing that they can only see a few steps ahead. They can never have a vision of the road’s end. A pilgrim opens their heart to those they meet along the way knowing, believing, that their fellow travelers have gifts to offer, gifts they cannot receive from anyone else. A pilgrim expects to be changed by the walking though they cannot know what form that change will take as they begin only that when the journey is completed they will be different than when they started. A pilgrim knows that they will lose things on the path…a sock, some pounds, an attitude, a deeply held opinion, a long buried hurt. A pilgrim also hopes to find some things…a beautiful stone, an outstretched hand, a warm cup of soup, a mended heart, a transformed life.
As we enter this new year, we all come to it as pilgrims. We have no crystal ball that will tell its future or how the year will actually evolve. We may have goals and plans that have been lovingly and wisely molded and shaped. These goals may be accomplished and there will be celebration. They may also be derailed and take a different form. May we find grace in that and be gentle with ourselves as we know that this is the life of the pilgrim. May we be patient to wait for the lessons the detour offers.
Our faith stories are almost all wisdom tales of pilgrimages. Abraham. Sarah. Moses. Ruth. Mary. Joseph. Jesus. All these people walked the pilgrim path and from them we have shaped wisdom to be our companion on the way. The good news of pilgrimage is that it begins again with the rising of each new day and the dawning of each new year. It is written on the palm of our hand and lives within the chambers of our heart.
And so now we begin again…the pilgrim’s walk…into 2016. May the Holy bless our path. May we be protected and guided in the ways of Love and uplifted by the stories of those who have gone before. May we watch for signs and wonders. May we bless those we meet along the way and receive with graciousness their blessing to us. May we be open to the gifts and the challenges that come with each step. And may this new year find us kinder and gentler with ourselves and our world.
A blessed New Year to you all.