New Year’s Revolutions

Yes, resolutions don’t hit the mark entering a new year after the year that we have just experienced. Something more is needed. A higher standard to be set. We may (I certainly may) talk about coming out of 2020 exhausted in many ways. Be that as it may, exhaustion cannot be what we carry into 2021. Rather, we need to be carried by commitments based on principles that we hold right down to the foundation of our souls. With this in mind, here are a few personal (and some suggested, communal) New Year’s Revolutions.

  1. There will be no return to ‘normal.’ The old normal, the status quo ante has been shown to be so insufficient, so lacking, so inhuman in so many sectors of life that it would be a travesty of enormous proportions, the abdication of human responsibility, and the failure of moral imagination to simply return to what we knew before Covid-19. Much of what we have known and done thus far is bankrupt and empty compared to who and what we have been called to be. In terms of healthcare, economic policy, the workplace, respect for the elderly and all the weakest among us, mutual respect across political differences, communications, justice, and so much more in the world we share. In the world closer to home, life in our homes and in our churches, how we express our care for one another daily, what our actual priorities are as measured unfailingly in how we spend our time and our money. None of these and many more unmentioned should return to our practices before without deep thought and openness to getting it better. We made the older systems. We can make the new ones.
  2. Being takes preference over doing. At every nanosecond of existence the gift of God’s presence, life, and inspiration are being poured out into your life and mine. In faithfulness and gratitude to that truth, before I do anything I will recognize daily who I am called and empowered to be and to become in God’s sight and in the presence of my sisters and brothers in community. I will value that recognition of being loved in God’s sight before I take up any task to do. It matters not whether anything gets done unless I am aware in living fashion of the way in which what I set out to do fittingly reflects who I am, precisely when I am most faithful to who God calls and empowers me to be. So if you ask me to do anything, be prepared to express to my satisfaction how this project, this action reflects who you and I are in God’s loving providence.
  3. Our service to others as a community of disciples is vital. Its power to change lives flows exclusively from our first being a community of genuine prayer, worship, and praise. We are created to love God, one another, and ourselves. That is the answer to why we even exist. The power to love comes from God. In turning to God in constant ongoing prayer, personal and communal, we receive the energy to reveal the kingdom of Christ present in this time and place. So our prayer together must find us together. This together may be electronic or geographical, but in either case it must be genuine, from the heart.
  4. I care not what you look like, sound like, talk like, smell like, believe like, walk like. You are made in the image and likeness of God, and so you are precious in God’s sight and deserving without question or hesitation of not only my time and care, but of my love.
  5. This is a time for hope. Not a hope based on our own fancies, but a hope based on the positive energies that might be released in us throughout the coming year. God willing, as the pandemic recedes in the months to come, our hope will strengthen and take shape as an energy to itself re-shape day-to-day life.
  6. This is a time for reflection. It is a time for becoming quiet, for turning inward first and considering the lessons the past year has taught us (none of which we asked for or desired). What can we identify within what we have been forced to do because of the worldwide health and economic and emotional and spiritual crisis that we should choose to do into the future because these new ways have actually been helpful in our learning to live as actual human beings?
  7. This is a time for questioning. Question everything. Take nothing for granted. Remember what you might have taken for granted as 2020 began? You were justified in none of that. So question everything to find the ways to live that are life-sustaining, earth-sustaining, and that might bring joy.
  8. This is a time for gratitude. Yes, I said that. Gratitude. I say that as one who has had in agonizing grief to bid farewell within these last weeks to an amazing mother. Her love has been unbreakable and unshakable for my entire life, and her honesty in teaching me how to live has been absolutely constant, both in words of encouragement and of warning. If I can say this is a time for gratitude, so can we all. Only gratitude will search out and identify and celebrate the blessings within the pain. And only by doing so will the path forward become visible.
  9. This is a new year. But as we should know by now, there is nothing magical about that. January 1 will dawn with all the same challenges and pitfalls and regrets of 2020 still firmly in place. If anything is going to change (beyond the changes forced on us by that submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates inside the living cells of our organism, as a virus is defined) we must choose to change. Don’t tell me that change is hard. Of course it is. But for every time you tell me that change is hard I will tell you that change is necessary. Now more than ever.
  10. Not continuity, but change, is the force that can make 2021 an actual happy year. Change that embraces the best of the past and leaves the rest behind. I commit to that work, flowing out of my very being, challenged and wearied and wounded and still alive (perhaps more than ever) as the old year ends and the next begins.
Mom (1929-2020) with one of the agents of change she loved.

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