By Jeannie Kendall —
As I write this, the “old” year, in this hemisphere at least, has a short time left to run. Preparations will be at hand in a myriad of way in different households. It can be yet another excuse to party and overeat, not wanting yet for the celebrations of Christmas to be ended. Some will have the alcohol ready, but for numerous reasons: some the sociable desire to share this moment with others, others to anaesthetise the pain of the past year or the fear of the one ahead… still more to disguise the inherent loneliness they feel whether in isolation or a crowd. For a few the stroke of midnight will pass almost unnoticed, in sleep or apathy or even a reaction from mild annoyance to genuine distress at the noise of the now customary fireworks. For those employed, it may herald another day away from what may be a daily grind or a genuinely fulfilling joy: a day when the tyranny of the alarm clock may not bring its shrill note to disturb the bliss of sleep.
Yet for most at least, there is an acknowledgement of a new year, despite its artifice… it is, after all, just the creation of another number. We take the opportunity to bid good riddance to a year that was grimly tragic or to regret with melancholy the end of one full of promise. A few make resolutions they will actually keep, or use the opportunity to take stock and at least dream about changes. Somehow we believe that a new year can wipe out the past, despite the fact we carry all we have been and done into the new year, in memory if not in repercussions.
Perhaps this longing points to a deeper desire….to really clean the slate and find a new start. To be free from the shackles of guilt, the tentacles of disappointment in ourselves which drag us drowning in a morass of self-despair as we fail again to live up to our expectations of ourselves, or the (often falsely assumed) expectations of others.
A longing, in fact, for exactly what God offers. Fresh start. No conditions. Not just one day, but 365. Good news, whatever the date.