I love New Year’s nearly as much as Christmas. I’ve talked before about how I liked being a teacher because it was a career that provided complete circles – beginnings and endings each year. What I love about it mostly is that, in both the end of a school year or the end of a calendar year, there is time to look back and think about what’s been learned and accomplished. It’s a time to pat yourself and others on the back, and also offer forgiveness and grace (to others and myself!). As the circle ends, though, it also begins again. So, reminiscing can easy be left behind in favor of looking forward. Goals can be set, resolutions made. When I wake up on New Year’s Day I feel somehow cleansed of the old and ready for the new.
I realize that in so many ways this is an artificial ending and beginning. Every single one of the worries and complaints I had on December 31st have followed me into January. Many of the resolutions I thought about yesterday are old friends – I’ve made them many times before and not been as successful as I’d like in keeping to them (let’s see, exercise, worry less, eat healthier…). Even so, January brings a new thread of hope and determination that makes me happy and hopeful. This year, I am leaving behind the destruction of two category five hurricanes with thanks for the regrowth and rebuilding and the love and support of so many. I am leaving behind some of my fears and worries, and even while I do carry some with me, I am resolved to never stop trusting that God is walking with me and I’m not alone.
On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, Karl and I took a walk. We walked about a mile down the beach to a place called Sandy Point. The sun was shining but the wind was a bit chilly, the sand was loose and hard to walk on, and waves were actually crashing against the rocks, sending spray dancing in the sunlight. I’d looked forward to a calm walk on the beach holding Karl’s hand, and this turned out to be something other than easy or peaceful. We’d brought the snorkel gear with us, but there was no way I was getting into such rough water. When we finally got back to where we’d parked the truck, we were pleasantly surprised to see two friends sitting in beach chairs enjoying their day. Karl got our chairs and we joined them, glad to rest our legs and be in good company. As we sat there chatting and watching the sun make its way to the horizon, I watched a turtle (probably a hawksbill), poke its head above water and look around. As the next wave crashed over him, I saw him tumble as he was caught in its force, then he disappeared. No doubt he was heading farther out and deeper where he could find peace from the agitation on the surface. Just a few minutes later we spotted two dolphins. Again, I only saw them for a few seconds as they played in the waves then disappeared, but even so it was a thrill and a gift to see them. Somehow dolphins convey joy to me. That afternoon illustrates life so clearly. The hard parts are often worth the effort because of the wild fierce beauty that accompanies it, and when the effort is finished, there is rest and welcome and joy. Sometimes we need to just keep walking even though the sand is loose and our legs are tired, sometimes we can dive deep and get out of the fray, other times we can mock the waves and play in them with disregard, but always, eventually, there will be somewhere to find rest and welcome.