The turning of the page from one year to the next invites both reflection on the year lived and aspirations for the year to come. Surveying the script on the worn and dog-eared pages of the past year invites reflection on the good and bad; the ups and downs; the routine and the unexpected – all of which have conspired and contributed to the woven fabric of the year lived. There is always that which we are glad to leave behind and shake the dust off our souls: The pain, the loss, the separations, the perceived failures and disappointments – real and perceived, that might have occurred. Yet, with perspective as our Teacher, we know that somehow such times can become the rich soil from which true value and beauty grow; the place of rebirth and renewal which at the time, seems utterly impossible. It is one of life’s great paradoxes that our pain can mark our progress.

There are also those times and moments that have marked the year past to which we cling to and hold tightly. Those precious times that if we were fortunate, were recognized as such at the very time itself and because of such awareness, became moments and experiences that we lived to the full.  The residue and inspiration of such treasured times we hope will spill over into the promise of the days that await – much like a kind of fairy stardust that makes magic possible. Such is the nature of life.

So this is the time – when the year is still fresh and unexplored, that resolutions are made, dreams hatched and buoyed by the optimism of a fresh start and blank pages to be written, we go charging into the new year determined to do better, make changes and realize the goals set. The wise amongst us will come to understand that the turning of the page at the outset of a new year need not be the only gateway to such newness and optimism. The truly wise realize that real invitation of such is something that exists at every page turning throughout the year. Those who understand the great turnings of life know that life is only given to us moment-by-moment, day-by-day. That is what we work with; this is our blank canvass, the single page one at a time on which we are invited to make our mark and write our script. To get too far ahead or too far behind is to potentially lose the moment and so we need to cultivate an awareness of the present that allows us to make the most of what we have right now, right here. It is a discipline, especially when the invitation of the moment is hidden by pain, darkness, confusion or uncertainty.

I have a wonderful friend who wrote the following in an end of year newsletter to family and friends that I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing it with you: I’ve found that life delivers blows – the ones that go deepest seem to be from those we trusted most in our vocation, church, family, friends.  But, as Canadian singer/songwriter, Hawksley Workman notes, “Hopeless is not true.”  I really want newness, awe and change to eclipse scarring, cynicism, and staleness in me.  Let it be.

I would echo that ‘resolution’ and my hope for you, especially for those entrusted with the responsibility of leadership in whatever context, would be that you live and lead with courage in the year ahead; that you use wisely the invitation of the blank pages given.

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