…What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes... James 4:14
...On account of his vast mercy he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection ... 1 Peter 1:3
For His anger is but for a moment; His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5
I ended the year by playing piano for a wedding and a memorial service; and finally, a New Year's Eve wedding in the church where I grew up, where my marriage ceremony was, and where my parents' ashes reside. It was an interesting journey that music lead me through. As I envision my life in the coming year, I try to start with thanksgiving for the blessings of the past year. I think any beginning needs to start with thanks for being there, even if what we are beginning is not something we would choose. My marriage was not permanent, but I had an interesting life for much of it, and I had the ultimate gift of our children and friendship with their relatives. My parents are gone, but they are with me in so many ways. There is even a Christmas tree in the parish hall of the church covered with hats and mittens for children at nearby schools, and because my mother was heavily involved in that ministry the church named the tree after her - thereby personalizing it and increasing their donations. My mother is very much alive in this mission.
My New Year's Eve began with brunch with people from my high school class of 1973. One of my friends is dying from a degenerative disease, but he came to the gathering anyway. He is one of the busiest among us, finding ways to be with his friends, who are more than eager to share time with him. He is approaching his death by being more alive than anyone I know. He has gratitude for the life he has been able to live, and is as enthusiastic about each day as he was when I first met him. People are attracted to him because he is genuine, direct, and in full acceptance of his brokenness. This has the effect of presenting God's power of making him whole. Death is truly a powerless player in the game.
My friend is awakened every day before dawn and taken to a balcony to watch the sun rise as he drinks his coffee. This makes me inspired to try - once in a while, perhaps - to greet the new day in some way like this. I have been stumbling into my mornings lately, and I am finding it to be a poor way to start the precious day. The next thing he does is to be taken to a hot whirlpool bath and then massaged, even the parts of him that are essentially numb. The corollary to this for me would be to have more fun with my shower, rinse away sleep and anything nagging that stayed with me from the previous day, and follow it with some stretches to give my body a chance to reconnect with some helpful energy for the promising day ahead. And of course, I need to connect with my friends beyond the electronic screens of my life.
In this age of time management, my friend is living more in God's time than he ever has. He is planning, but not with any anxiety connected to it. So much of what grinds the rest of us down is being released in his approach to life now. He is open, he meets fear with peace, and he treasures time with others.
Resolutions don't tempt me like they used to. But fresh beginnings are always possible, and always worth the energy. I want to build on what I am doing well, and I want to let go of things that distract me from my purpose and joy. So maybe I should start at the beginning - which God always provides, and is always present in. I want to hear and join in with the shout of joy that comes in the morning.
From Prayer at Sunrise by James Weldon Johnson:
O greater Maker of this Thy great sun,
Give me the strength this one day's race to run.
Fill me with light, fill me with sun-like strength,
Fill me with joy to rob the day its length.
Light from within, light that will outward shine,
Strength to make strong some weaker heart than mine,
Joys to make glad each soul that feels its touch;
Great Father of the sun, I ask this much. Amen.