Pastoral Letters

Rejoice in the New Year!

Dear Members and Friends,

Viola-January2009Benjamin Franklin did what he called “moral bookkeeping” every night just before hopping into bed. He would review the day and note anything that he had done that fell short of his ideal. He would then give himself a grade for the day’s behavior. We busy people today probably would not take the time for such an exercise. It is, however, as we face the New Year, a good time to remember and review the past year. No life is all preaches and cream, and life has a way of sandpapering us as we go through our daily routines. It is a good thing to go into the depths of our soul and hold a dialogue with our deepest selves. As I do this, I look out into the bare trees, which in their bone honesty require me to be honest with myself. In these deep inner dialogues there is the temptation to put a positive spin on all that we did in the past. We remember and review what we have done and said. In this process we try to be honest with ourselves, but there is always the lingering temptation to paint a flattering picture of ourselves.

We have our Seven Principles against which to measure what we said and did in this past year. We know that ahead of us lies a time filled with promise and pregnant with possibility. In our secret hearts we promise ourselves that we will do better in the New Year. We hope that we will have the courage to face hardship and loss. We also hope that we will have the energy to rejoice. We remember, we review, and we rejoice. The temptation is to linger over the negativities of the past and to neglect the equally important verb, “rejoice!” Even on the saddest day of the past year there must have been something that gave you joy, even if it was only the pattern the sun created on your kitchen floor. In the time of rejoicing we gather new energy to face whatever the new day brings.

We do not know what marvel or surprise awaits us in the New Year, but we should be open to the New in every phase of our lives. There is always more light coming, and even if the new light reveals some dark corners in our lives, we should rejoice, even in this revelation. Samuel Ramey sings an aria, “The trumpet shall sound,” from The Messiah: “And we shall be changed.” As this artist sings those words, we believe it. In the very deepest sense these words are true: We shall be changed. It is at this point where we need the support of all our loves, for the changes may frighten us and force us to turn away from possible growth. So rejoice that we are alive in such an hour to practice extravagant love wherever we are. We are summoned as individuals and as citizens of our nation to be faithful to our Original Goodness; to make the New Year one of living-out our loving connection to “all breathing life.” Therefore, rejoice, and be exceedingly glad for the New Year.

Love,

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