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I am usually a decisive person. A classical “J” on the Myers Briggs indicator, I make and then check off lists of things I need to do should do and want to do. I am a happy camper when my list is complete and all deeds are done, but come New Year’s Day with its call for resolutions to be accomplished during the upcoming 12 months, I balk.
Is it fear of failure that drives me? Am I afraid that I’ll not accomplish what I stated and stand in harsh judgment of my own weakness? Or, is it fear of success? Do I fear that I’ll need to raise the bar even higher next year? Whatever the cause, the effect is avoidance and denial.
Here it is, already a week into the new year and I am still asking, “What am I to do?” It will do no good to beat myself up over the omission. Nor is it helpful to offer explanations and excuses. I think I need to rethink the whole idea of resolutions. I think it would be beneficial for me, and for those like me, to understand life as a continuing genesis, an ongoing “new beginning,” a story of how we became the way we are. It won’t be a “start all over again” as if all that preceded was wrong. It will mean a continuing renewal of who I am; a continuing pondering of life as it is. It will be a becoming; becoming who we are in God’s eyes.
Each day is an opportunity to enter into a newness that is both creative and re-creative. Each day brings with it glimpses of God’s reign on earth. Each day affords us the chance to remember and to be re-membered; to be put together differently, in the process. So this year I resolve to enter into the genesis of my life. I resolve to step into beginnings with eagerness and joy.
In her book, “Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is,” Sr. Joan Chittister reminds us that we “need to know where we come from and we need to be aware that it’s a story that will show us at every turn that some things could have been different. We are free to make a difference, but we don’t often know just what the difference will be.”
If we look at this story biblically, we’ll discover that, at its heart, it is a tale of leaving home, being expelled from home to find who we are in exile. Growing becomes inextricably engaged with discomfort, never being quite “at home,” and trusting that somehow divinity is both revealed and released in the process. God is traveling with us in our disruption, our leaving and our returning anew.
Chittister states: “In God’s company, every supposed homeland is strange.” God is never to be contained in a familiar and comfortable landscape. Home is God’s company. Can I...can we...be resolved to live in that company of unfamiliarity and uncomfortableness? That’s a tall order for any new year, but a great one.
It calls for radical hope, total trust in the dangerous presence of a free God. It means living as Abraham was asked to live, taking leave of his known home to go, with God, to an unknown place. God’s request for him and for us is to believe that all is well and all will be well, no matter what it looks like at the moment. It means believing in God’s guarantees, God’s promises, even when it appears that there are none.
Perhaps making and taking resolutions impedes that process. Perhaps being resolved to do one thing or another leads us into certain self-satisfaction or negatively into a self-criticism. It may well put us into the center of our universe, affirm that we are in control, when that spot should be reserved for God. To live with resolute trust that God is in charge is to find divinity in each moment of our existence. It is to share divine love and life with all. It is to discover the divine anam cara, the divine soul friend we can find in others if we give ourselves the time to look. It is to take delight in all that is.
So, I am going to be resolutely appreciative of each day, each opportunity to give and receive love. I am going to be aware of possibilities for new beginnings, even when they are disguised in challenges I am reluctant to accept. I am going to honor the exile times of life, those periods when discomfort plagues me, when I cannot pray and feel empty. I am going to offer praise and wonder in the face of the often uncertain or discouraging circumstances of ordinary life.
I am going to view life as a creative possibility, not an achievement, letting new doors open and going down strange paths where I do not know the way, but cannot not go. I am going to see life as a slow, steady cycle of spiritual growth.
No doubt, despite my resolve, I’ll not do this well, perfectly, or consistently; however, I am committed to the promise. I am open to the surprises, the adjustment, the growth. To paraphrase Chittister’s advice, I am ready for the vagaries of life that give us all a chance to do today what we did not do last year or in another place or last week, or yesterday. I am committed to entering the process of growing into God, of becoming what God has called me...has called you...to be, a divine image and likeness.
How this will happen is not in my control. When it will occur is yet a mystery. That it will be is God’s promise. All that is needed is my yes. All that is needed for all of us is our spirited affirmation that God loves us as we are but will never leave us in mediocrity. God will always call us into becoming. God is resolutely our Creator; we are resolutely God’s creation.
Be it resolved that we become ever more aware, ever more conscious of that reality. That’s a resolution worth taking, even if I was unresolved on New Year’s Day.