Living with reality and hope
Have you noticed? e days are already a tad bit longer. e weird wobble of the Earth has set us on yet another cycle of the seasons.
In December we took a pause or, more accurately, rushed to celebrate the season.
For many of us it was Christmas. Also there was the solstice – the most fundamental of all December celebrations – or whatever your particular religion, culture, family or business was celebrating. Some, like myself, had a birthday thrown in.
Now, however, the gifts have been exchanged, the parties experienced, Christmas Eve services attended, concerts enjoyed, families gathered, turkeys cooked and eaten, and whatever else the season brought.
Now is the time of resolutions. In the sober thoughts of New Year’s day, perchance after a night of over indulgence, our thoughts turned to resolutions and goals. How do we want to better our lives? And what do we want to accomplish and enjoy as the New Year unfolds?
Now is the time for taking stock. We face the realities of our lives, with all the hopes, fears, possibilities, grief, joy, pain and love that is ours. Many of us, like Emily and me, have been richly surrounded by family and friends. Many, like us, are shadowed by one who has died. Some of us face the mistakes of past years. Others rejoice in the goodness of life and the ful llments the years have brought. We are all complicated mixtures of memories and hopes.
Out there is the world. For those of us of senior years, our greatest weight is the world we are leaving to our children and grandchildren. Every day it becomes more apparent that if we don’t deal with how we have run roughshod over our earth, our future, and that of all life, is in jeopardy.
And the monstrous abuse of power and privilege cloud any possibility of creating a world of justice, peace and sustainability.
Yes, we must face the dark realities of our world. We must be aware of and confess the failures of our ancestors and ourselves to rise above our pettiness and greed and see the vast oneness of humanity and all that is.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the darkness that seems to be descending over much of humanity – climate change, narrow-minded populism, corporate greed, religious self-righteousness…
If I remember my high school history correctly, I believe renowned historian James Henry Breasted said, in e ect, that civilization is like the tide. It comes in and goes out. But each time it comes in a little farther and stays a little longer. Right now the tide seems to be ebbing. But the force of civilization, the energy that yearns for a world of justice, peace and the freedom to follow the creativity of our lives, is at work.
We need that confident faith that the universe is on our side and the tide of civilization will come in stronger than ever.
We can look to creative leaders in all areas of life to nd hope. But you need look no farther than the people around you. We live in a world of wonderful, creative, skilled, loving and compassionate people.
Granted, we all have our aws, but most of the people who are part of your everyday lives are generous and kind and have the good of the world, and you, at heart. From your neighbour who cheerfully greeted you, to the surgeon who repaired your heart, the world teems with goodness. ere are exceptions to the rule that can darken life. But look to the good and the people that live it.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” e writer of Hebrews was not looking to some supernatural God to come and solve all our problems. Here is an attitude toward life that believes our hopes and visions are real and possible, but we make them happen.
Let us not deny the reality of evil and the dark side of life. But behind and through everything there is a surging desire within all humanity, and our individual selves, to live a fully human and creative life in a just and caring world.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the [lack of vision] that clings so closely, and run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1).
Here’s to the New Year.