It's New Year's Day, the beginning of a new year, the start of new courses of thought and action, the open door for new disasters and exultations. The door of 2013 with all its trials, joys, disappointments, questions, trial balloons and monumental decisions and actions is now closed, only to be reopened in order to look at its results in hindsight. Now it is 2014 and all its possibilities lie ahead. It's a challenge -- a daunting one.
Before the year turned, many people practiced an old tradition, namely making resolutions for the new year. A lot of them will resolve to live healthier lives, exercise more, eat less, and take better care of themselves. Some will quit smoking, others will give up other vices, larger or smaller ones, and start over. Some will resolve to pray more and others to volunteer more. Others will just ignore the whole thing,
Resolutions come from the word resolve, which, as a verb, means to find a solution to a problem or dilemma or to make a decision to follow a course of action. In debates, the question posited for discussion begins with "Be it resolved that..." just as do many documents with legal ramifications and which indicate an agreement to abide by the terms of the document has been reached. When the church approaches Lent, it encourages people to make resolutions of another kind, personal resolutions to give up something of importance or value to them and/or to take on additional duties or practices such as prayer or service to others.
For some Christians, New Year's Day can be almost a practice session for the beginning Lent which, this year, begins on Ash Wednesday, March 5. Lent might then be a second, more successful attempt at whatever it was that was resolved. Whichever, generally there is a personal gain to be sought in making and keeping resolutions, as well as the potential for failure and feelings of defeat when humanity overtakes and surpasses resolve.
Personally, I don't "do" resolutions. No matter how good my intentions or how enthusiastically I begin the process, somehow it never quite works out. Forty days of intentions are about as much as I can manage most years; to think of a whole year boggles my mind. I know there are certain things that I have to do in order to maintain some semblance of health, like take my pills, eat healthier stuff and (groan) get more exercise. Most days I can try to do those things but it's strictly a day-to-day commitment. I can resolve to pray more, do more volunteer stuff, put some extra in my church's alms basin and the like, but when I end a day, I usually can say I have failed in my resolution. It's not a good feeling, even though I know I can start again tomorrow.
So on this New Year's Day I've done stuff other than make resolutions. Half the leaves in the yard are raked and bagged, most of the laundry is done, I've watched some borrowed DVDs, done a bit of reading and thought about resolutions and what I would resolve if I were a resolution-making type of person. On reflection, I've decided to skip the resolutions and go make myself a nice cup of tea.
Happy New Year.