Another year, come and gone. It is a year that has known highs and lows…like all years. It is a year that has seen beauty and tragedy…like all years. It is a year that has seen moments of peace and deep divide…like all years. It is a year when love has been strong and hate an unwelcome companion…like all years. We have seen births that have brought joy and deaths that have ripped at our hearts. Illness has visited. Inspiration has triumphed. Creativity has blossomed. Failure has cut us to the quick. Despair and delight have been our dance partners.
And now we stand at the cusp of another year. Resolutions have been made. Goals have been set. Regrets have been named, forgiveness is within our reach. Hopes are ever present as they always are when the page on the calendar is turned and its newness, its blank canvas is before us. And while the numbering of days and the shift of the year is in some ways artificial, created for order from our human need, there is something about the turn of New Year. It spells another chance to become the fullness of who we believe ourselves capable of being.
As I have looked ahead to this new year with some trepidation, I have thought of a very short two verse poem written by Coleman Barks that made its way into a collection of poetry compiled for the turn of the millennium. Remember that? The power and promise of the year 2000! Barks writes: “A child stood on his seat in a restaurant, holding the railing of the chairback, as though to address a courtroom, ‘Nobody knows what’s going to happen next.’ Then his turning-slide back down to his food, relieved and proud to say the truth, as were we to hear it.”
I remember the first time I read this, I laughed out loud…at the wisdom and audacity of the child…as I imagined the people in the restaurant’s reactions…as I imagined what my own might have been. But each time I read these words, I am struck again by their truth. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen next.” We may plan. We may hope. We may speculate. We may wring our hands and drop to our knees in fear or prayer or both. What will happen next still eludes us, is often outside our ability to shape it.
There is a deep sense of uncertainty that abounds as we enter this new year. Perhaps it is an uncertainty that many of us have never felt so profoundly. And still the truth is that we do not know what is going to happen next. And yet, as I have shared in the uncertainty and even given in to anxiety, the one thing that prevails for me is that I believe the Holy is in the midst of it all. I continue to believe that the Universe tilts toward goodness and that light is always stronger than any darkness that threatens.
And so I step into 2017 knowing little about what will happen next but confident of the One who breathed us all into being and walks with us through uncertainty each and every day and onward into eternity.
Blessed New Year to you all….