As year begins, try letting go

We begin another year. We put an arbitrary mark on the calendar. It is a date the world agrees on, and we say we’ve entered a New Year. Tracking the passage of time beginning at Greenwich, England, humans in Iceland and the U.S.; in Asia and India and the Middle East; and back to Africa and Europe celebrate something we think of as new.

We imbue the coming trip around the sun with our hopes for all things good – peace, prosperity, and health. We ache for easy deaths for our elders, some smarts for our teenagers, and doable days for ourselves. We make resolutions – less middle-age spread; fewer carcinogens in our diets; lower credit card debt. We hope for more patience, generosity, and light-heartedness. We want a new life, or at least a life made new.

Funny how prominent these notions are in our secular world on Jan. 1. And then as the year’s days slip by, we lose track – lose sight – lose hope for all that we’d so wanted in the dead of winter. We get caught up in the rat race or the humdrum of life, and we settle for the status quo. What’s more, we begin to think that the way it is, is the way it should be. We resist the unstoppable change that surrounds us and grasp for something solid, immovable and predictable.

For those of us who claim to follow the Christ, and especially for those who do that within a community of faith, the Church doesn’t allow us to lose track. We regularly hear scripture that reminds us of God’s work of making all things new. In churches whose days are marked by a liturgical calendar, we are brought again and again, to the message that death is the crucible out of which Life comes. It is not the end. Our liturgical life together cycles, taking us ever closer to and ever deeper into this pattern that is at the heart of all creation.

We can resist that pattern, but because of the story of death and resurrection that is ever so much in the faces of those of us who are Christian, we cannot ignore it. We don’t have the luxury of once a year ringing out the old and welcoming in the new and then moving on.

Followers are called daily, moment by moment, to a letting go of our selves – our egos, our striving, our self-sufficiency. The more we are paying attention, the more frequently we realize we have yet another opportunity to “let go.” God may be making all things new, but without our stepping into transformative grace, it will not be realized in us.

And without an immersion in that spiral I share with my community of faith – the spiral that brings me inexorably back to the pattern of death and resurrection/old life giving way to new life - I would trundle into 2014 thinking I’d arrived. I’d say good-bye to 2013, make a few plans, and go on my merry way.

But in giving myself to God’s pattern, each day, each moment opens up the possibility of New Life. I don’t have to make it happen. But I do have to stop hanging on to the way it is. I can impede God’s transforming work, and who wants the next 365 days to be just like the last 365?

May your coming years, beginning each day, be transformed.

Leigh Waggoner is priest at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. She can be reached at 565-7865, or rector@

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