At the Gate of the Year

Ice fog and sun dogs – that was the morning of December 31st in Winnipeg. As I wait for sunrise on this first day of the New Year, I am uneasily reminded of the lines from the poem King George the VI read in his Christmas message in 1939.

We stand at the gate of the year, to be sure, and the way ahead is always dark. We would like a light, but there isn’t one that allows us to see further than our own feet, much less what lies ahead, even by as much as a day.

So we take whatever hand is offered to us as a guide. There are those who take the hand of God, of Allah, Yahweh, of the Creator or Great Spirit, of the source of Life and Light, or however the One greater than all is named or understood, trusting that the guidance found in such beliefs will shape the journey toward some better destination.

There are those who believe none of these experiences to be real and so take the guiding hand of the secular leaders who offer reassurance about the year that will unfold. Whether economics or business, politics or government, horoscopes or social hagiography, there is no shortage of prophetic voices with advice about what lies ahead.

Yet in the ephemera of ice fog and sun dogs, there is more substance than the predictions we are able to make about the course of our life, day by day. We really don’t know what each sunrise will bring or what will unfold before any sunset. Nor does anyone else.

Our New Year’s resolutions are as ambitious as they are incautious. If we speak and choose and act for the day, that is as much as any of us has the ability to control.

When it comes to bigger decisions, dealing with more than the choices that swirl around what we do as individuals, how then can we choose? Without a light ahead, without anything more than the noisy and conflicted leadership of our global society to guide us, how can we trust the wisdom of any decisions beyond the reach of our own arms?

We are at the gate of a year in which what we do about climate change, about the unsustainable way in which all of us together live, will profoundly shape the future of not just all the children of Earth, but our own future, as well.

It is time for a new story, one in which resilience and regeneration replace devastation and disappearance, one in which desire is replaced by need, one in which disregard is replaced by respect.

And, as the sun rises on a new day and a new year, we need at least to hold each other’s hand as we try to find the path that will lead us into a future shaped by this new story.

It is through such an act of trust, shared with another person, that the universe of relations unfolds as it was meant to unfold, weaving the future we need out of the choices we make.

Wishing you wisdom for the day, strength for the journey and rest at the end.