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new year

Christmas is definitely over. We’ve eaten all the food and what remains of it will be thrown away. Too late to freeze it.

And what remains of us in the aftermath of all the Christmas stress, if that is what it’s been? Are we too frazzled to think? Or just relieved that we don’t have to think about Christmas for another year? Or perhaps missing the people we had around us, or didn’t have around us.

On the other hand we’re at a new beginning, the threshold of a new year with all the hopes and fears it brings, as the Christmas carol we may have sung tells us. Bethlehem: ‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight’.

The hopes always win over the fears. If it were not so, the human race would have ceased to exist aeons ago. Hope is not the same as wishful thinking, or even dreaming. It goes much deeper than any dream. It has to. It has to lodge itself somewhere in the human psyche where it will take root, where it will be protected from the ‘elements’, the ‘elements’ being those of our individual proclivity for various kinds of despair.

Most of our despairing thoughts return us to ourselves and to our own perceived inadequacies and failures, or to an inability to quite ‘deliver’ in life, whatever form that ‘delivering’ needs to take.

But hope, real hope, takes us beyond, or deeper – however you prefer to think of it – than our usual selves, as we understand ourselves, that is. If we allow ourselves for a few minutes each day to drop down into the deepest and most quiet place we can find within our own inner being, we encounter something solid and true. We encounter something like God’s steadfastness. If we do this every day we begin to walk God’s walk, as opposed to our own solitary and anxious rushing about. We encounter peace, perhaps only for those few moments, but having encountered it in that place we’ll know where to find it and how to return to it. Not a bad New Year’s resolution, really.

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