For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. -T.S. Eliot
And so we begin again. The new year of 2015 is underway. The roads near my house were surprisingly free of traffic. The gym was nearly empty. Our neighborhood is quiet. It is time to make a beginning, to find a new voice and fresh words. For me, however, this new year is not a time for resolutions.
I just finished reading again Parker Palmer’s reflection about the artificial marking of a new year. Click here to be redirected to the onbeing website to read the post. I always appreciate Palmer’s perspectives on living and being and faith, and this entry is no exception. His words remind me of why I resist making New Year’s resolutions. They seem, well, so artificial. We lay our best intentions on the line, a bold hope, seeking some sort of accountability and encouragement in writing and/or speaking the words of them. Yet life, in its relentless passing, has a way of grinding those good intentions down to finest sand. They endure, but all too often the don’t resemble the idea or hope with which we cast them upon the tide of our days and hours.
No, I won’t make resolutions this year, but I do think I’ll join Palmer in pondering some life-giving questions rather than hammering out pronouncements of change and intended improvement that will likely fade as winter’s chill gives way to spring’s greening.
Palmer offers a lovely poem, “We Look with Uncertainty” by Anne Hillman and a quote by Ranier Maria Rilke as inspiration for this process of questioning. The Rilke quote is from Letters to a Young Poet (one of my favorite books):
“…I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them, and the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then graduatlly, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” (treanslation by M.D. Herter Norton)
So here are the questions I’ll be pondering (do check out Parker Palmer’s, too):
- Is what I choose now central to what really matters in life? If not, can I let it go?
- How can I be a better steward of all that’s been entrusted to my care?
- What is God up to in my life? In the world around me? Am I listening and paying attention?
- Am I being vulnerable and taking risks for the sake of the gospel?
- How am I giving my call to creative work sufficient power and time?*
How about you? What questions might you ponder this year? How will you begin (again)?
*This question comes from a quote by the poet Mary Oliver that I read a few days ago. This statement has convicted me to do a better job of giving power and time to my creative gifts this year. Here’s the quote:
The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time. — Mary Oliver
Photo: Chris Wild, Creative Commons License. Thanks!