Blessings for the New Year

Reflections

Bishop Jeremy Greaves encourages us to reflect and make a New Year’s resolution, so we can rediscover the ‘real’ things in our lives

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Bishop Jeremy Greaves reflections

The beginning of a New Year is, for many of us, the time to make resolutions that are meant to change us for the better in the coming year: resolutions that mostly don’t last until the end of January. It is the time when people take out gym memberships, sign up to music lessons or enrol in any number of courses that will be abandoned long before they are finished. Despite this, I have not given up on New Year’s resolutions because there is always important work that comes before choosing what new thing I am going to do ‘this’ year.

You see, no matter what becomes of our New Year’s resolution, the process of personal reflection is incredibly important. The process of stopping, of reflecting on my life, on the relationships that sustain me, on the work I have done and all the work I still have to do is always what informs my New Year’s resolutions. And yet, with every passing year, we become more and more distracted and give less and less time to this important work. Our time for reflection is being whittled away like never before — and we have no idea how that affects our wellbeing (although there is now significant work being done to assess the impact of Facebook and Instagram and mobile technology on our lives). After all, the awareness of our own thoughts and feelings and motivations, which we refer to as personal reflection, is what makes us human. If we sacrifice a significant amount of that, what do we become?

A good New Year’s resolution might be to take time to escape social media and mobile technology on a regular basis — to regularly find quiet moments to just sit and think, or experience the simplicity of nature, or go to a restaurant with friends or family while leaving the phone in the car. Or, play a game that is not computer related. When you are with people, appreciate them with your undivided attention – do not take your phone to the dinner table…or to bed!

Even if we manage it only for a week, it might be the beginning of rediscovering a world that many of us have almost forgotten, a world of real people, of real beauty and of real life. We might even rediscover something worth persevering with for longer than just a couple of weeks.

Several years ago, John O’Donohue, one of my favourite Irish poet’s wrote a New Year’s blessing for his mother entitled Beannacht (For Josie). It is a blessing that calls us to pause and be still, to notice what is going on and to receive God’s blessing in all of that.

May you know the abundance of God’s blessing in whatever unfolds for you in this New Year.

Beannacht – A New Year Blessing (By John O’Donohue)

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

 

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