This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote these words in his poetry. Eddie Vedder sings in front with the band Pearl similar words, when he questions ‘all those yesterdays,’ on their Yield album. The picture above is from the banks of Lake Michigan, looking east into the sunrise from a park in Mequon, Wisconsin. So, what does all this have to do with anything, or even each other? The question I am pondering in the new year is how well we, including myself, reconcile with the past in order to see the new day, the new year, the new opportunities ahead of us? This is a constant question I ponder for many reasons.
From the perspective of faith, the Christian tradition of recognizing a time to reconcile the past with hope for the future in Advent has long since been erased from the world through the “Christmas Rush” created by advertising, sales, and human need for stuff. We live in a time where we believe we must holler Merry Christmas at everyone we meet, and only Merry Christmas, but yet the true Christian holy days of Christmas don’t start until December 25th. And what are we doing that evening, other than scheduling when to actually tear down Christmas and get ready for the next commercially inundated reason to spend money on useless stuff? While the church maintains this schedule and invites us to remember the spiritual reflection offered in the twelve actual days of Christmas, do Christians truly take heed? From the Jewish perspective, the new year holy days of Rosh Hashanah and the atoning day of Yom Kippur offer the same invitation to take time and yet the need to hurry and work is greater than the need to stop and ponder what glory lies ahead of us. And Ramadan, the celebration of the first beginning with the first revelation of the Quran to Mohammed, and the rest of list. Nearly every religion of the world invites those who practice faithfully to ponder the newness around them in hope of new beginnings. But how well do receive these invitations in our lives?
From the perspective of a newcomer, I wonder how well we invite new and fresh perspective into our lives. 2017 was basically overtaken with one event – a move from Kentucky to Wisconsin. Something that has been very refreshing to the spirit in Wisconsin is that we have felt welcome with true sincerity. While we feel sincerely missed by friends and colleagues in Kentucky, the welcome was not so fresh and sincere. It took years of proving ourselves in a community very hesitant to trust anyone from the outside. And even upon leaving we did not feel fully part of the community. Now, even after only being here for 6 months, we are being invited to be part of the community in many ways – even the dialogue of criticism for the sake of building a better world for future generations. One example of that is from the photography I do. I often hear the locals sounding melancholy about what is around them – the beauty of the natural resources, the landscape, the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Of course, it’s not new to them. It’s always been there and so it is easily taken for granted. To the local it’s the boring same old thing. For us, it’s a permanent vacation home filled with quality of life, concern for creation and humanity, true joy in many ways. So I have been taking pictures to share with the longtime locals, to help them refresh their perspective on what it is they are surrounded by. We offer our input to help folks know that this is nothing to simply wake up to, but something to see new wonders in daily. And this has been an awakening in our spirits as well.
And from the perspective of the new year. No, I am not talking about resolutions. I am simply talking about how we receive the sunrise everyday as an opportunity to experience something new and wonderful without completely tossing out the experience of yesterday to shape us. I am talking about how we might be open to new opinions, to dialogue with each other in these very politically polarized times. I am talking about how we might find each day as a gift and not as a right, and to see all of our time as borrowed from the holy rather than reserving our borrowed days for the last months before our last breath. How do you receive new people, new perspectives, new time, new opportunity? The same way you receive a Christmas or birthday gift? The same way you receive Hannukah blessings, a greeting of Shanah Tovah, or Eid al-Fitr? With hearts open wide to receive all that is holy in our days … Every day? Is every day not too dear to be invited to receive all that it has to offer?