The turning point

1 01 2023

Every New Year is a turning point, a chance to change and do things differently. It is impossible to know the challenges that will face us in the weeks and months to come. If crystal balls were offered on the first day of the year, how many of us would choose to gaze into the as yet pristine unknown? What lies ahead is a state of graceful unfolding to be experienced for the briefest of moments in January when we each have been given not crystal balls but the equivalent of blank slates and the permission to start creating afresh .

The Winter Solstice and months of December and January have long been a time of rest and retreat; in the darkness ideas find nourishment before they show their new faces to the light. It might seem as if nothing much is occurring under cover when we want to retreat from the rain. The relentless rain. Hanging up our dripping waterproofs, washing our hands again, putting on the kettle to make tea, preparing food. Ordinary life shaped by extraordinary weather.

When we remember to look, reminders of change are everywhere. It’s in the bud, the green spear, the sudden song. It’s in the way we greet our friends. It’s in our hearts to want to become better than we are. It’s an odd human preoccupation, to be ever so slightly dissatisfied with the way we are. The desire to change is the urge to start again. To find a way of being in the world that feels like an improvement.

How hard we will try to stay on track with our new plans and promises to ourselves, to each other, and, if we are listening properly, to the world. It can seem relentless, like the rain, this need of ours to do well. And we will fail because there will be obstacles, conditions and circumstances we hadn’t foreseen. Before long we will be yearning for another year, a different swathe of time to put this one behind us.

In spite of knowing that truly there are no good years or bad years only years to live through, we are superstitious. Will the year ahead be auspicious, we want to know? Will we ever again live through a year without loss? In the supermarket on New Year’s Eve, a couple listed their losses like items on a grim shopping list; for them it was good riddance to 2022. Too much had happened. One thing after another had spoiled their year, leaving them with little to celebrate.

If there is a time for flourishing, it is now. The New Year is a promise, as pure and perfect as a full moon. The seeds of hope that this year will be better than the last are being planted by many of us right now and we must take care of them as best we can. We cannot know what will grab our imaginations and grow or what will founder and fade.

Hope does not mean that we won’t be tested this year. It does not mean that we won’t wish with all our hearts for a different outcome to certain events and situations we thought we could control. Inevitably we will experience disappointment. We will want to be somewhere else. We will find things hard.

And yet like many across the world, we begin this year with hope. It is not a small thing. Hope is the strongest thing we have to navigate uncertainty, injustice and difficulty. Hope will help us to not only endure the year ahead, but to see those moments where we might, in spite of the real challenges we will face, root more deeply so that we may flourish.

%d bloggers like this: