It has been a rough year for the world — in natural disasters: hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes; in political disruptions: a refugee crisis in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe, poverty and starvation in South Sudan, Yeman, and Venezuela, distrust between the U.S. and many of our historic partners; nuclear threats from Korea; a fraying of civility within our country as racial unrest and prejudice threaten people of colors and creeds other than white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant; as people in poverty find their livelihoods and their relationships at risk, as drugs sweep the country and people find only death and further despair. That doesn’t account for the loss we have all suffered in our personal lives — death, divorce, illness, old age, depression and on and on.
As we come to the threshold of 2018 what will it take for us to cross into a New Year with a calmer soul, a new sense of direction, and a personal promise to deal with ourselves in a way that speaks to peace. What we need is a blessing. Have you ever received a blessing where you could feel the weight of someone’s hand on your head, pressing down in an age-old action that was heavy with promise, awe, and more than a little fear? Standing up from that blessing you were renewed.
So I would encourage a quiet walk, a morning’s private meditation, a time for journaling, a time when the house is still and your heart beats quietly in your chest, to see the threshold of the New Year as a true beginning. To feel the weight of the hand of God upon your head.
I would wish for you and those you love a slower, simpler life and the courage to make it happen; a washing away of too much “stuff”; a promise to put away all the “toys” and get back to the things that really matter, a care for our minds, our bodies, and our souls.
Every person crosses thresholds in their lives that set them in a new direction — the refugee who decides to leave home and family behind and get into a boat with dozens of other lives who have crossed that same threshold; when fire, flood, wind, and earthquake destroy all that you have, you have crossed a threshold. When you venture out to speak more boldly about things that matter in our society you have crossed a threshold. Each day each of us needs a blessing to begin again and we need to bless each other because each person is beginning again and crossing a threshold in ways we cannot see nor understand. To acknowledge and cross a new threshold is always a challenge. It demands courage and also a sense of trust in whatever is emerging.
May the clay dance to balance you (when the ground is shaky beneath your feet); may a path of moonlight bring you safely home (when you wander in darkness). May the nourishment of the earth be yours, may the clarity of light be yours, may a slow wind work these words of love around you, an invisible cloak to mind your life.
On this echoing day of the new year, may you open the gift of solitude in order to receive your soul; Enter the generosity of silence to hear your hidden heart; Know the serenity of stillness to be enfolded anew by the miracle of your being.
(Quotations from John O’Donohue’s book To Bless the Space between us)