I remember as a teenager desperately wanting to party on New Year’s Eve. I was usually on holiday with my parents in Queenstown, NZ., and there was always a waterfront gathering – of varying degrees of booziness (depending on how bad it had been the previous year). Failing being allowed to go to that, I used to plead for us to gate crash two other families who, we knew, had a NY tradition of a table tennis tournament but my mother (wisely) vetoed that idea too. We would stay up till the witching hour, (with not a witch in sight), but trusty dry ginger ale or sparkling grape juice and reheated Christmas mince pies (which were delicious!) seemed tame. It all was sadly disappointing to a 16 or so year old.
Now, some decades later, I stayed up till midnight with friends. They’d invited us and I really think it was the first time I had been invited to any kind of NY celebration. It was a nice feeling to finally ‘party’. Oh, I’d forgotten a dinner party I was invited to in the US because I was staying with my brother and his wife. He’d volunteered my services to cook a pavlova at the last minute, leaving me hardly enough time to cook such a lengthy dish. I remember arriving on a cold December night, with a still slightly warm pav on my lap and a bottle of cream, then finding our host (who was wearing lederhosen – don’t ask) only had a whisk not any kind of egg beater (despite serving dinner on an heirloom dinner service of great beauty). I thought it would be the end of the year before that cream thickened. However, the pav and I made it in time.
Mostly the other NY celebrations were not memorable. What I do remember is the absurd significance I placed on New Year resolutions. Each year I would vow to a. keep a diary and b. read a Psalm a day. It might be something to do with my personality type, but I love starting over. Each year I had three chances to do that. NY Eve, my birthday in early January and the start of school (both as student and later teacher and minister). Even with three closely gathered such occasions, I failed. I have a pile of dairies with a few days’ entries and not much else and I know Psalm 1 really well! The others not so much. Routine and I do not fit well together. I am finally accepting that fact (most of the time).
But Dave Tomlinson, in the week 94 Holy Shed You Tube video, has issued a kind of NY resolution challenge, though he didn’t link it to resolutions. He calls it a dare. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWzv1-D8Gcg He dares his watchers to love themselves this year. The whole week 94 session was on love. I marvel now that , in my more rule bound days, I thought following the rule of love was wimpy, wishy washy, and impossibly liberal and therefore suspect.
To follow Love is the strongest thing you can do, however, I have discovered. It requires setting others and yourself as the priority against a world where others don’t seem to matter too much and yourself is meant to be tucked away out of sight, self-sacrificed for everyone and everything. Loving truly requires immense courage and creativity. It’s not suspect, as I was taught, but is dangerous and demanding.
I loved Dave’s emphasis on the fact that we are loved just because we are. Not because of who we are, or what we have done, but just because. I was sent a funny birthday card today. It celebrates/satirises the huge individuality all around us these days. I really think Jesus might even so have coped really well with the situation shown on the front, he was so focused on each individual.
Inside the card reads ‘Miracles are more complicated these days.’ (Thank you to Anne who will be reading this blog.)
Love does seem to be more complicated than it used to be, and yet it is still as simple as ever. Though perhaps we use the complicated nature of our world as an excuse for seeing love as too complicated to handle.
Once you get used to the fact that rules are guidelines made necessary by our inability to love well, then Love seems a more respectable option. Love could be described as the original rule of thumb. Rumi said once ‘Love is my Religion’. Not a bad decision to have made. My friend Christine made this banner for me some years ago celebrating that quote.
Let’s treat every day as New Year and simply, each morning, renew our intention to follow Love as the rule of thumb. Not to pre-judge each day how that will be, but to be open to Love’s call today, then how Love calls to us tomorrow, then the next…. you know what I mean. I believe that will make our souls happy, as this sign in a window I saw yesterday asks us to do.
I think I can guarantee that if you follow Love’s call, you will find yourself doing what makes your soul happy.
Happy New Days in this New Year everyone
P.S. Wherever you are, You are on the Journey books are still available from me. $20 per copy and $5.60 postage up to 3 books. Email me your order at email@example.com (Overseas readers, check Amazon/Kindle and other e platforms – see earlier posts.)