A New Year with Henri Nouwen
Whatever your practice might be for the start of a new year - maybe you choose a “word of the year” like Father Drew, make a resolution or two, say a special prayer, or simply give thanks for the blessings that came in the past - the turn of the calendar is a perfect excuse for hoping anew. True, the switch from December 31st to January 1st will not be the solution to all of our problems or provide sudden strength to surmount obstacles, but it is a time when the world turns its head together towards a new beginning. As Christians, we know this new beginning is just one amongst many, and instead of hoping in the newness itself, we can hope in the One who created it. In his book You are the Beloved, author Henri Nouwen celebrates new beginnings simply and enthusiastically. We share his words here as a beacon of hope and a blessing on the new beginning of 2021.
“A New Beginning!
We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a new beginning, as a unique opportunity to make everything new. Imagine that we could live each moment as a moment pregnant with new life. Imagine that we could live each day as a day full of promises. Imagine that we could walk through the new year always listening to the voice saying to us: “I have a gift for you and can’t wait for you to see it!” Imagine.
Is it possible that our imagination can lead us to the truth of our lives? Yes, it can! The problem is that we allow our past, which becomes longer and longer each year, to say to us: “You know it all; you have seen it all, be realistic; the future will just be a repeat of the past. Try to survive it as best you can.” There are many cunning foxes jumping on our shoulders and whispering in our ears the great lie: “There is nothing new under the sun . . . don’t let yourself be fooled.”
When we listen to these foxes, they eventually prove themselves right: our new year, our new day, our new hour become flat, boring, dull, and without anything new.
So what are we to do? First, we must send the foxes back to where they belong: in their foxholes. And then we must open our minds and our hearts to the voice that resounds through the valleys and hills of our life saying: “Let me show you where I live among my people. My name is ‘God-with-you.’ I will wipe all the tears from your eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone” (Revelation 21:2–5).”