Thursday, December 28, 2017

A New Year

Dear Friends,

The photo above was taken in the Lamberton Conservatory in Highland Park during this Christmas season. The walkways through the lighted plants were conducive to making the walker quiet and thoughtful. Someplace, deep within us, we are just that – quiet and thoughtful – as another calendar year turns into the blank page of 2018. What will it be like? What joys will we know, what sadness will come our way? Who will we become?

New Year’s resolutions are usually a bust before January is half over…but here are just three resolutions that might just work, if we are daring enough to cultivate them…

Welcome and treasure sleep. People of our day don’t do that. They cut rest short in favor of accomplishing something or enjoying something. Think of Joseph in the Gospel of Matthew. Four out of the five times that messages came from God, they came to Joseph with life-changing implications. They arrived in a dream. Did you ever go to sleep, wrestling with a problem only to find it lessened or resolved by morning? That is the same gift of God that Joseph received…but it requires that we welcome sleep.

Engage in holy repetition. Repetition is a fact of life, from daily wake-up routines, through the roads we travel, to work, cooking, keeping house, recharging cell phones. So what is holy repetition, then? It’s another way of describing the prayer that roots itself deeply with us. It makes us go over events of our daily lives or the surprises of our lives until we get right what those events really meant. Mary, when she and Joseph went up to Jerusalem to present Jesus in the Temple, came face to face with Simeon, a stranger who startled her with his insight into the Babe’s future and hers. “She pondered these things in her heart,” Luke tells us. Like her, we are never through pondering the meaning of our lives and the lives of others. Never done unless we stop. Give up. Don’t care. But if the practice of holy repetition is part of us, then we don’t let go of the gifts of God.

Participation in weekly Eucharist bears holy repetition. Practice valuing the repeated words and gestures of Eucharist. Think of the psalm response. If we sing it at Mass, it can become a mantra for the week. But most especially, being fed on the Bread of Life within the community of believers is non-dispensable for us, although, to our loss, we often choose to make it dispensable. Too busy with other things. Or think about how it feels when we haven’t eaten an ordinary meal for a number of hours, our stomachs begin to growl. Maybe we even become weak. So too, if we let weekly Mass pass by unattended. We hunger – and might not even grasp what the real hunger is. In the quiet and depth of us, we hunger for God.

God offers us a new year in which to live and grow and find our meaning – a new year to meet people whose lives are lessons in faith, hope and love and who help us become better, and we them. The arc of the year is before us.

~Sister Joan Sobala