A new year, a new decade awaits us. More than at any time of the year, we usually pause to make intentions of how we want to change at this time in our life.
We can state the change, the result, but we often struggle to know how we will bring this change into our lives. Change is often much harder than it looks. Many good intentions fall away very soon. I think the challenge is to keep trying rather than giving up. Think of a child learning to walk. Their falls are just interruptions. They rarely see their falls as failure.
I offer as a reflection some elements of how we bring about change in ourselves and in our community.
The Christmas season is a time of abundance, a time of food, gifts, friends, and fun. We carry the experience into our new year. We live in great abundance and can easily cultivate this sense of abundance in our lives. God is with us, we are blessed. It relates to a sense of gratitude, so we know our abundance. We express abundance with joy, peace, and hope. We take time (which we also have in abundance) to share with each other.
Many moments of life call us to change; the New Year, retreat, relationships, health, etc. The decision to be intentional about how we use our life energy is very significant. We can be passive about these life events or we can choose new attitudes, new behaviors, and new understandings. Watch how people reach out to each other. Those who do so with intention always seem so much more effective.
I once heard someone beginning a school year telling the students that if they were certain about too many things, they probably would not learn. It is a challenge to let go of all we think we know in order to welcome the future. Our tendency to lock onto what we know or have experienced makes it harder to see things in a different way, yet much of what we experience and appreciate about life now came to us through change and adaptation. God continues to create and we are to participate in this creation. Creation from our God is often very surprising.
Life is about meaning making for all who can live beyond survival. When we listen to others, we are listening to their sense of meaning in life. The challenge is to understand the difference between private meaning and public meaning. If all we care about is private meaning, then we share information and tolerate each other. Public meaning is the idea that our private meaning-making is conscious of community. We pray as a community not for the sake of the individual, but for the sake of community. We create teams not for private outcomes, but for the good of the community members. We intuitively understand the public meaning that is necessary for life in the long term, but we live in a society that focuses on the short-term and encourages a focus on private meaning.
Each of these elements and many more help us create the change we desire. We can look back and see change much more clearly than when we are in the midst of it. May each of us experience the gifts of change enough to encourage us to get up each time we fall and try again.
Happy New Year!