Linking personal and public renewal in 2009
"What a gift it is that we get another shot, another chance to patch things up or another opportunity to turn the page to a new idea or venture."
“Behold, I make all things new.” Revelations 21:5
What would life be if you were never able to start over? Have you ever thought how dreadful it would be if every decision you made was irrevocable; if you had no chance to heal a breach with your spouse, children or best friend; if you had no challenging job changes; if you had no fresh learning or surprises; if you had no opportunity to create a “new me”?
It doesn’t take much effort to realize that our one precious life would quickly descend into a particularly bleak form of hell. What a gift it is that we get another shot, another chance to patch things up or another opportunity to turn the page to a new idea or venture.
We have just gone through the first season of the liturgical year—Advent and Christmas—and are ringing in another new year. Soon we will inaugurate a new president, a new cabinet and a new congress—each with a new vision for our country and world. At this time we are called to find creative ways to link our personal renewal with the public renewal of church, state, world. What kinds of decisions will we make this year? What will give the greatest glory to God and alleviate the suffering of our sisters and brothers across the world?
At least four types of starting over face us. One involves repair. When we wreak havoc with the ties that bind us, or take a wrong turn, we are able to say “I’m sorry” and correct the map of our lives. Reconciliation brings new strength, trust and fidelity. Finding a better road brings hope.
A second type is cyclical. Seasons follow upon one another; the daffodil pokes its head up through the snow; birthdays come with dogged regularity; the new year brings reveling and resolutions.
A third option is simply the arrival of something or someone new that changes our lives, whether planned or a complete surprise: a new baby, a new friend, an unforeseen discovery, a book read, a door opened.
A fourth way to start over is captured by the familiar line from Shakespeare’s "Macbeth": “Sleep knits up the raveled sleeve of care.” Sleep literally and metaphorically has the power to heal and nourish, allowing the unconscious to sort out what is tangled, frayed, confused. Winter can be like that. Animals go into hibernation. Humans hunker down. In some parts of the world cold and darkness descend, providing cover and space to renew ourselves and our world. Winter space provides an alternate rhythm in which new ideas and resolve can germinate and prepare to be brought forth.
Preparing for new things
Likely most of us know a mix of all four paths to starting over. Ultimately, making all things new is a gift of grace—the power of the Spirit within and around us. Christianity has a rich tradition that links the new with the Holy Spirit. Building on the Jewish prophetic tradition in Isaiah, we trust and open ourselves to the gift of this amazing grace. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17). “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19).
Newness, however, is a gift with which we must cooperate. New beginnings are not automatic. We may get so caught up in the dullness of routine or the narrowness of self-preoccupation that we don’t even notice the new thing right in front of us. Or perhaps we are frightened—filled with dread at the risks and challenges renewal inevitably brings.
But we are free to say to the Spirit, “Come in,” allowing our spirits to be quickened by the anticipation and relish of expanding horizons and fresh adventures. As women, we are called by the Spirit to trust our gifts, our desires, our vocations and to offer them to the world. The time is now for women to voice and act out a word of comfort to the oppressed, a word of courage to the faint-hearted, a word of truth to power. In winter we prepare the ground for God to do a new thing in us and in our world.
What new things do you anticipate in 2009, and how will you prepare to greet them? Share your thoughts by clicking on Contact Us
Wednesday, December, 31, 2008