Wednesday, December 31, 2008

resolve or reflect?

She asked if we offered a New Year's Eve service, and when I said we didn't, she wondered about a New Year's Day one. No, we don't offer that either. She told me about how she liked going to a service on the morning of January 1st, for it was a good time to sit, with only a few folks around, and reflect on what had happened the last year and on what might happen in the coming one. Then she paused, and wondered,

"Can you reflect forward?"

Most of the shows on TV and the radio today have been about what has happened over the last 12 months: cultural phenomena, political comings and goings, those we lost to our old friend, death. One could watch clips and hum along on songs, laugh at old jokes and mourn the loss of folks who had touched us in some way or another. Retrospectives, remembrances, looking back, all those things we do at this moment on the calendar.

But, can we reflect forward? Do we dare?

Do we take some time tomorrow, or the next day, or the next to sit in silence and just listen to the yearnings of our hearts, to those longings of our souls which have been pushed aside by the hustle and bustle, the worry and hurry of the last month or so? Can we calm our fears, our doubts, our nightmares long enough to once more dream about a life that could be whole and holy; about a relationship that might be reconciled and knit back together; about a journey we have long thought about taking but just can't bring ourselves to pick up our foot and take that first step; about a wish that a friend has that we suddenly realize we can help make come true?

If history is any indication, at this point most of us probably have that list of resolutions for the coming 12 months - a list that looks an awful lot like the one we made back in December 2007, and looks as if we just folded it up and put in our jeans pocket, letting it run through the wash a few dozen times: tattered, faded, ink-run-together-till-we-can't-read-it. Those same resolutions we will break as easily as we have done in all the other past years.

What might happen if tonight, or tomorrow morning, or in the evening before going to bed, we were to sit down and make a list of reflections for 2009? That list we laminate and stick on the refrigerator; that list we scotchtape to the mirror in the bathroom; that list about living more peacefully, being more open to the surprising grace of God, of gifting others with joy when we want to slap them silly with sarcasm. That list of hopes we have jotted down on napkins, on the bottom of bulletins, on the backs of voided checks, and shoved way down into our purses 'to do later.'

"Can you reflect forward?"

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

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