During the Advent season, our family has a longtime tradition of reading something called the Advent Book. It is a lovely, large black book that resides on our living room coffee table during the month of December. Each day we open a new door to a beautiful picture and Scripture passage which tell a part of the Christmas story. This year I sensed that I was opening a door to a new day. As this new year begins, I also feel like I’m opening a door to a new year and a new decade. I ponder what this newness will have in store for me, for others, and for our world.
My husband and I started the new year at mass with good friends. The entrance song was an old familiar hymn. I was struck by the line, Ponder anew what the Almighty can do as with His love He befriends us.” I thanked God for giving me this thought as we begin the new year.
On New Year’s Day, our family normally spends a relaxing day at home. We take time together to review highlights of the past year and share some of our hopes and dreams for the new year. This year even though we had no children with us, my husband and I spent time in front of the fireplace reflecting on God’s goodness to us this past year and pondering what the coming year may hold.
“If you hear God’s voice today, do not harden your hearts.” Psalm 95:8
A personal tradition of mine is to pray that God give me a word for the new year—something to give me focus. God has been faithful to do that for many years now. This year I sense His word for me is savor—to appreciate fully; to enjoy or relish. In order to savor, I need to “BE” in the moment and “PAY ATTENTION” —lessons God has been teaching me in 2019. I am learning that God is constantly forming me, others, and the world—we are all an ongoing creation. That thought gives me so much peace and hope. To cooperate in this ongoing formation, I need to believe that God is always with me, always at work in the world, and that God has something to say to me in every situation. My part is to be aware, pay attention, listen. The Rule of Benedict describes it as being “disposed to the will of God, attuned to the presence of God, committed to the search for God, and just beginning to understand the power of God in our lives.”
“Your love is round about me; in you I find my life. You are the center of all that is; teach us to listen to our life within us.” Divine Office
Just like the church’s liturgical year, most of our life is ordinary time. As we learn to fully BE in our daily life and pay attention, the humdrum can become holy. “We must learn to listen to what God is saying in our simple, sometimes insane, and always uncertain lives.” (Rule of Benedict) There can be much wonder in the ordinary.
“Prefer nothing whatsoever to Christ.” —Benedict
As I live this way, I find that I am gentler of heart and better able to truly be with others, especially those who are wearied by suffering. To walk alongside, to comfort, and to be a faithful presence in our unpredictable world. I want to do more of that this year. At this season of life, I want a “simpler life, a deeper life, and a more authentic life in which the inner experience of God is primary and energizing and centering.” (Divine Office) When I bring this “me” into the world, I believe that God can use me to make a difference.
Never forget that Christ is in you. You can make a difference.
I wish you all a very Happy New Year and I encourage you to ask God to give you a word this year, in whatever season you find yourself. You also may want to ask yourself, “Who is God for me now as I enter this new year?” I’ll close by sharing a few of my thoughts on this question. As I continue to ask myself the question, I feel God answering me through His word in Holy Scripture and through my own words when I ponder or write in my journal. Peace be with you.
Who is God for me now?
Mystery with a capital M, Nourishment with a capital N, Beauty with a capital B, and
Goodness with a capital G.
God is the Beyond beyond myself.
In one of my prayer groups, a member always begins her prayer with “Beloved”, another apt description.
The One who is always with me and never changes.
The One who quiets my mind and kindles my heart.
The One who makes me secure and constantly sustains me and mine.
The One who makes me brave and sets me free.
Source of all Being, Eternal Word, and Holy Spirit.
My greatest Treasure.
Gentle God, you remind us that you are our faithful friend, and that you will deliver us from bondage. Look upon us, your people, and deliver us from the chains that keep us from the fullness of life. We pray this in love and confidence in Jesus’ name. (Divine Office)
*Divine Office quotes are from People’s Companion to the Breviary.