So the holidays are over...and that is OK with me. The first snow came over the weekend. It messed up some church plans but I will get over it. More pressingly, it is messing up my old bones which is making it hard to peel myself out of the bed, don my winter gear, and walk the dog for her accustomed four miles. It just didn't happen today. Even though I have done a great deal of hiking--much of it in the winter--it takes a while for me to recover these days.
That is the way with time. It rolls on ahead of us and we need to pace ourselves. We are different people from moment to moment. Through the years this long line of who we have been changes. With each change we are less like the person we were when we were born. We are less like the person our parents dreamed of us being. We are--even--less like the one we thought we would be. You know this...but it is worth pointing out sometimes.
That isn't always a bad thing, is it? Lost plans make us who we are. I remember in my undergraduate Anthropology class watching a documentary that followed two groups of children from elementary school well into their adulthood. In the first video all the kids said what they wanted to be when they grew up. By the end the rich ones had become just what their young selves said they would be. The others--working class mostly--went on some unpredictable adventures. Some stories were tragic. Mostly, though, they did things they never thought possible. In fact, they wouldn't even have had the words when they were young to describe the adults they became.
Anyway, the new year is an arbitrary date but--as we talked about during Advent--all holidays are arbitrary. I have plans for 2024. I bet you do too. It is hard not to look both back and forward at the same time.
Maybe you don't have a resolution. I don't. That is fine. However, in surveying 2023 I see good parts and bad parts. There have been times when I thought that I handled things well. There were times when it felt like whatever I did made things worse. This is normal. It takes a certain level of delusion or a high level of privilege to go through life thinking you are perfect, right?
So what are you thinking about for the future? For me, the "tiny step" involves trying to figure out what to do with this dog. She came to us the Saturday before Thanksgiving Sunday (which--for the edification of non-church people--is before Thanksgiving). Right after that was the chaos of the holidays and of our lives which took an entropic turn. It has been a long time since we had a dog. The last one was a husky, who was very different from the one we have now. I hope to figure out our relationship over the next year. Things will come out of that, I am sure. Not all of them will be good or successful. However, my wife tells me I am not happy unless I have seven projects going at a time. So there yah go...
During the Christmas season we went to the Worcester Art Museum and sat for a while in the 12th Century Benedictine priory they have just off the main hall. A jazz band was playing. The band was great but the acoustics were not. Anyway, I sat there for a while, recovering from all the mess of the month before. I thought of the things I hadn't managed to get done. Then I did my best to let them go. Most plans don't work out. What is left, though, is a life.
Whatever your plan is, I hope you commit to it. I also hope you take it easy. Otherwise you might break something. Right now I would like to go for a big hike in the snow. The dog and I look out the window and all I can see is the potential for adventure and stories. She probably sees squirrels and frozen poop. That ankle though...I need to take my time now if hiking ever gets to be a thing for me again....
Such is the way with the new year. It is a lot like the old one. Old injuries and burdens continue. However, maybe the dreams change along with our ability and our commitment to live into them.
I am a full-time pastor in a small, progressive church in Massachusetts. This blog is about the non-church things I do to find spiritual sustenance.