Thoughts In a New Year

This week, more than in the past, I've been gripped by January fever. I've been cleaning out drawers, rearranging bookshelves, and generally trying to determine ways that our family can function more efficiently. Even though New Year resolutions rarely change much, being hopeful and optimistic-at least once a year-feels refreshing and invigorating.

At the same time, I've been overwhelmed this past week by a subtle sense of sadness. We are born with a sense of place, of wholeness. But as time passes our sense of “place” is fractured and we come to realize that we were not born whole. In the bleakest moments, it seems like we are all treading water only to wait to drown, and that we give birth to children who will need to do the same. And sometimes, though we cry out to God against it, our children's bodies break before our own. I don't know what to make of this dichotomy of hope and despair, of meaning and vanity.

I was reading a blog this morning and found myself drawn to a quote from the 20th century educator Charlotte Mason:

"Every other avenue towards perfection leads you, after weeks of months or years of delightful going, to a blank wall. You see nothing beyond; all that remains is to retrace your steps, and retrogression is always bitter. You try through Christ, and you find yourself in the way of endless progress cheered by perennial hope."

At one level, it is not meaningless to clean out closets, to make lists, to attempt to improve one's self. But on a deeper level of course, it is meaningless, which is so discouraging. And yet if we strive to live to love others, we do make meaningful changes, echoed by more and more change. Miraculously, we find ourselves passing on the selfless love of Christ through the ages in a ripple effect, and, in so doing, we are lifted out of the mundane, finite cycle of life into the eternal realms. Life becomes filled with meaning and promise. Hope begins to burn in our souls, and with good reason.