Happy New Year!
For many of us, a new year means an opportunity for a new start, for resolutions and intentions and aspirations. There's a natural sense of rhythmn to that, and we all need reminders to do things better or less or differently. And yet new year can put a weight of expectation on us, expectation that turns to guilt when we don't live up to it, and so now seems a good time to remember that there is no resolution you can make or break that will change how much God loves you because God already loves you with a boundless love.
So this new year, go for the things that will make you happier and healthier and calmer and kinder, knowing that God will rejoice with you in your successes, but also go gentle on yourself when you struggle, knowing that God will help you brush yourself off and start again.
I don't know what things you might need to do better or less or differently this new year, but I can think of a few things that I would like to see done better or less or differently in the world. And so I will leave you with a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, which hopes for some of those changes, and which seems to me to be the perfect new year's prayer.
In Memoriam (Ring out wild bells)
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, The flying cloud, the frosty light: The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true. Ring out the grief that saps the mind For those that here we see no more; Ring out the feud of rich and poor, Ring in redress to all mankind. Ring out a slowly dying cause, And ancient forms of party strife; Ring in the nobler modes of life, With sweeter manners, purer laws. Ring out the want, the care, the sin, The faithless coldness of the times; Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes But ring the fuller minstrel in. Ring out false pride in place and blood, The civic slander and the spite; Ring in the love of truth and right, Ring in the common love of good. Ring out old shapes of foul disease; Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace. Ring in the valiant man and free, The larger heart, the kindlier hand; Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson