Grace and peace to you
Time does what time does: it ticks on. Time ticks and dates click over, but New Year is not really about dates and times. New Year is about an inner longing within each of us. That longing is for newness. We long for more than a calendar change – we want our lives to change. We want our relationships to heal and deepen. We want our neighbourhoods and world to be peaceful and just. Even those of us who refuse to make any resolutions don’t escape this longing.
The first day of a new year is like a new page in a schoolchild’s exercise book. Crisp and clean inviting us to be a little neater than we were the year before. The empty page dares us to be creative and generously calls us to make a mark – our mark. It also boldly promises to hold whatever we throw at it. Surely a child pauses, be it even for a split second, in the realisation of the wonder and expectation of the blank page? So it should be for us today.
Below are two Jewish prayers that promise to stir our inner longing for newness at this time.
Days pass and the years vanish and we walk
sightless among miracles.
Lord, fill our eyes with seeing and our minds
Let there be moments when your presence,
like lightening, illuminates the darkness in
which we walk.
Help us to see wherever we gaze,
that the bush burns unconsumed
And that we, clay touched by God, will reach out
for holiness and exclaim in wonder
‘How filled with awe is this place and
we did not know it’.
~ Mishkan Tefilah – from the Jewish Sabbath Prayer Book.
On Rosh HaShanah it is written, on Yom Kippur it is sealed:
That this year people will live and die,
some more gently than others
and nothing lives forever.
But amidst overwhelming forces
of nature and humankind,
we still write our own Book of Life,
and our actions are the words in it,
and the stages of our lives are the chapters,
and nothing goes unrecorded, ever.
Every deed counts.
Everything you do matters.
And we never know what act or word
will leave an impression or tip the scale.
So, if not now, then when?
For the things that we can change, there is t’shuvah, realignment,
For the things we cannot change, there is t’filah, prayer,
For the help we can give, there is tzedakah, justice.
Together, let us write a beautiful Book of Life
for the Holy One to read.
~ Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler