Looking back is a common experience as a new year approaches. Nostalgia warms the heart as it evokes the past, making it come near again in a wistful, shimmering glow.
It all once was, and it was good, but had to recede to make way for today, for this year, for the new. And the new is the only gift we really have. It is ours to marvel in, to celebrate — a living mystery for which we can and should give thanks.
Years back, I had more than my share of rocking in the new year with all the bells, whistles, revelry and noise. It was great to be in a crowd as the music blared and the floor shook with dancing.
But I moved on, and coming here to a monastery, all that stuff, of course, did not move with me. We will have a quiet New Year’s Eve, and I would bet most all the monks will be sound asleep when the big ball drops in Manhattan’s Time Square.
In the morning, we will rise, and, this year, celebrate something wondrous and new. Peter Damien, one of our monks, will make his solemn profession of vows to God, the abbot and this community. We will celebrate with Peter and his family. We will rejoice in a real transformation in the heart and life’s direction of one man.
It is something new, something of God, a gift to us through Peter of what God wants and does with us.
I do not understand it but I believe it. I have seen it happen to me, and it is good. It puts me in the here and now, grateful for the past, grateful for this community, grateful for men like Peter who passed this way once upon a time and wanted to make it his home.
So we won’t be looking back much on new year’s day. We have much to do that day, making something of God’s call very present and very real to us.
We listen, and God moves us forward. He is giving us someone new and alive and good. A living promise of life to come, days to unfold, a future in the works. It is what God does with us and with everybody. It makes for a very Happy New Year.
Read it all. It’s a gift.