We mark our lives by clocks and calendars; now the date tells us we’re another year older.
Florida Scott-Maxwell, in The Measure of My Days, one of my all-time favorite books, says, “Age puzzles me. I thought it was a quiet time. My seventies were interesting and fairly serene, but my eighties are passionate. I grow more intense as I age. To my own surprise I burst out with hot conviction.”
My aunt Ida was in her mid-forties when she lay in a hospital bed, dying, and I had some special, private time with her. I was in my early twenties. She held my hand and said, “Face the past without regret, the future without fear, and live in the present with gratitude.”
In a sense we live in the past, present and future all at the same time. We can get bogged down with regret; we can become immobilized by fear; and we are living in the moment when we feel a sense of appreciation, or gratitude, for the gift of Life.
The other day I saw one of those New Year’s pictures with the baby in diapers to represent the brand new year, and the grim reaper to represent the year just ended.
The grim reaper actually comes from a Biblical passage. In Luke 3:17 John the Baptist is asked if he is the Christ and he says, “I baptize you with water, but the Holy Spirit will baptize you with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn.”
The winnowing fork is the scythe, used to harvest the wheat. The harvest of one’s life, as Matthew pointed out, (Mt. 25) is the list of good things you’ve done in your life. He said, “I was hungry and you gave me food; I was sick and you visited me, etc.”
As I look back at the year just ended, I’m pleased that our Social Justice Committee, under David Vita’s leadership, has provided opportunities to be of service. There are more of those opportunities than any of us can handle, alone. And none of us can be involved in, or even contribute financially to all of them. We pick and choose.
I look back at the spiritual nourishment Ed Thompson and the choirs have provided. Some years ago, when we ordained Ed and made him Minister of Music, a transition took place; our music program was broadened and deepened. Ed is a wonderful minister – a great partner. He and Jamie Forbes organized another great pageant, and Ed put together special holiday music.
Looking ahead, I’m pleased with our plan to ordain Leela Sinha as a Unitarian Universalist minister. In our Association only a congregation can ordain, granting the privilege to be called a minister and to do the work of professional ministry. Leela came to us from Stamford when she was in middle school — her church didn’t have a Coming of Age program. She came, she says, against her will, but told her parents that if it works, and she gets involved, they’ll have to support the commute. She did. And they did. We’ll ordain her on January 28. There’s a lot to look forward to. I wish you a good year, and hope to see you soon.