A new year dawns, bringing the opportunity for a fresh start. Lots of baggage from 2016 is carried forward, of course, including the ascendancy of the plutocracy and its trajectory ever rightward. Yet by all of us turning this page at the same time and resolving together to do better in the new year, we unleash a surge of positive energy. It is a fresh start of sorts.
My kidney cancer hasn’t gone away (to cite another holdover from 2016). But here I am, much improved in health as compared to last summer, anticipating in a few months the 4th birthday celebrations of four of my granddaughters and the 12th birthday celebration of another. This is evidence of the mercy of YHWH, to be sure, and also of the way life can pleasantly surprise us. Amid the unsettledness of the popular mood, I resolve to be alert to more such surprises in year ahead.
I expect 2017 to be a demanding year, what with Donald Trump in the White House and general elections scheduled in France, Germany and Iran. But thanks to the defeat of Hillary Clinton, the threat of war between the US and Russia has receded significantly, the US peace movement (or at least its fundraising apparatus) is coming back to life and a growing slice of the American public is again alert to the predatory imperialism of US foreign policy.
That’s enough good news to generate a glass-half-full-perspective on the new year!
No matter what lies ahead in public life, each of us faces the daily private challenge of living well within the time YHWH gives us. Here is a bit of verse I wrote a dozen years ago reflecting on that reality.
This Is the Day
I should know better by now
how to live day-by-day
grateful, expectant, open-hearted,
encountering God along the way.
Instead I mold time into bunches,
each one named by my desire;
seeking out a grand commission
to hold my interest ‘til I tire.
Once death tried to take me captive;
no more tomorrows, it seemed to say.
Yet, perversely, I resist contentment
reaching instead for quixotic dreams.
And so I am left, still learning
to pay attention to things close by;
not to look past this day’s treasure
while squinting at the distant sky.
Tomorrow morning when I awaken
the day’s blank slate in my mind’s eye
I’ll yearn again for buoyant mission
to bear me up through doubts and sighs.
Or maybe birdsong will catch my ear
I’ll feel love’s hand upon my skin;
maybe things too small to mention
will enlarge my living, fill me in.