Quieting ourselves enough to undertake a serious self examination, reflecting on a year ending and a new year beginning, we inevitably find ourselves lacking. Walt Whitman writes:
Whitman was a great poet, and thus a great observer of the human condition. We are a “poor” and “plodding” lot. Thus, any honest introspection will have a certain melancholic tendency. His answer? As a humanist, with a leap of faith Whitman proclaims an unabashed optimism, “you are here… the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”
Throughout the centuries, followers of Jesus have found the self to be far too fragile a foundation, one worthy of no confidence. But, rather, have proclaimed: “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him.” “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” And, “Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
If the coming of New Year’s Day invites us to look back and inward, examining our past and the failings of our own heart, Christmas reminds us not to linger and despair; rather to turn eyes forward and upward, looking toward Immanuel, God with us, who beckons us into a bright and holy future.
As the new year begins, may we be given the grace of reflection, holding before us both the truth of self and of God.