A friend posted this to Facebook yesterday:
I just learned that the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions harkens back to the ancient idol worship of a two-faced Roman god. That makes me feel better about my lack of success in making/keeping any.
I certainly do not want to be accused of being an idol worshiper. Even though writing a blog entry on the first day of a new year might hint of well-intentioned resolution-making. No promises, people. Just well-intentioned attempts at something resembling consistency.
On Friday, I received the shocking news that the 16-year-old daughter of dear friends was killed in a sledding accident. Besides her parents (in whose wedding I was a bridesmaid more than two decades ago), Jenna leaves behind an older brother and an identical twin sister.
I went to the viewing on Sunday evening to offer hugs and comfort, which felt inadequate at best. But I have been struck by the strength of the family’s faith in God, and how their eternal perspective is making this tragedy even a little bit bearable. Imagine my surprise when I tuned into a local news broadcast after returning from the funeral home and saw Jenna’s parents, Duane and Vicki, being interviewed. (I can’t find the video clip online, but here’s a brief overview of what they said.)
Given the hard things in the news over the last month of 2012, I found some comfort from reading this article, an op-ed published in The New York Times on Christmas Day:
One true thing is this: Faith is lived in family and community, and God is experienced in family and community. We need one another to be God’s presence. When my younger brother, Brian, died suddenly at 44 years old, I was asking “Why?” and I experienced family and friends as unconditional love in the flesh. They couldn’t explain why he died. Even if they could, it wouldn’t have brought him back. Yet the many ways that people reached out to me let me know that I was not alone. They really were the presence of God to me. They held me up to preach at Brian’s funeral. They consoled me as I tried to comfort others. Suffering isolates us. Loving presence brings us back, makes us belong.
A contemporary theologian has described mercy as “entering into the chaos of another.” Christmas is really a celebration of the mercy of God who entered the chaos of our world in the person of Jesus, mercy incarnate. I have never found it easy to be with people who suffer, to enter into the chaos of others. Yet, every time I have done so, it has been a gift to me, better than the wrapped and ribboned packages. I am pulled out of myself to be love’s presence to someone else, even as they are love’s presence to me.
I spent New Year’s Eve day enjoying gatherings with friends. Lunch with Ginger and Jim at the neighborhood pub. Late matinee viewing of Les Misérables with Anne, followed by dinner. A drive home through the snow, interrupted by a drop-by at Coffee Tree Roasters for a large decaf single-shot no-whipped mocha latte. Then a quiet evening on the couch with the cat, phone calls and text message exchanges with friends and family members, in bed shortly after midnight. Bliss.
I posted New Year’s greetings to friends on Facebook last night, sharing how I had spent the last day of 2012 watching Les Mis, and including my very favorite lyric from the musical:
To love another person is to see the face of God.
One of the comments posted by a friend to my status update puts into words my wish for 2013 and beyond:
That line alone made me cry all the way home. Beauty may yet save the world.
Beauty may yet save the world. And love.
May it be so.