“I’m going to get up early and take a picture of the sunrise,” I said to my wife on New Year’s Eve. I checked Dark Sky and sun-up would be 7:17 am so, to be safe, I set my alarm for 6:00. I would walk our dog, Gertie, down the street to the place where a new subdivision is being built and I have a clear view of the river through the trees to the east. As the sun peeked over the river, I’d snap a picture, spend a moment quietly pondering the year ahead. Say a prayer asking God’s blessing over what’s in store for us in 2015. Then head back and make breakfast for Christina and the boys.
When my alarm rang at 6:00, I turned it off, fell asleep, and didn’t get up till 8:00.
I really wanted that picture. Something about welcoming in the New Year at sunrise felt important, like it was something I needed to do. Because a new year brings new hope, new dreams, new possibilities for who we might become. Sunrise on New Year’s Day is when all that begins and I wanted to be there to see it. It’s when life seems free for the taking. On New Year’s Day we assume the best parts of us will emerge, and we’ll finally be that person we always wanted to be and do that thing we always wanted to do. “This is the year!” we tell ourselves.
But I didn’t take the picture. Before I ever woke up, I already failed the New Year. So what does that mean?
CAPABLE AND WILLING
Resolutions are interesting because they point to something we believe we’re already capable of achieving but, for whatever reason, never did . We can be skinny. We can be runners. We can be writers. We can be debt-free. We can be holy. We can get up to snap a picture of the New Year’s sun. We believe we’re capable. But being capable only matters when we’re also willing.
New Year’s Day brings a collective jumpstart for a willing humanity. This week gyms and workout centers across America will be flooded with people. Blogs will be updated for the first time since last summer (like the one you’re reading now). Churches will see new faces. Savings accounts will open. Joggers in brand new dri-fit clothes and colorful shoes will slam into one another while figuring out their Nike+ app. This will be the new normal for about a month, but by February all the hype will settle and we’ll return to our regularly-scheduled lives.
We’re a capable people, but our willingness needs work.
A NEW RHYTHM
It’s hard to start an entirely new routine. I’m a person who recoils at routine as though it were roadkill served up for dinner. The thought of doing the same thing at the same time in the same place every single day makes me claustrophobic. I have a routine of sorts because my job as a preacher requires it (I must have a sermon ready every Sunday). As a whole, though, routine is a four-letter word.
But it’s often a routine that breeds the necessary willingness to stick with what we set out to do on New Year’s Day. In routine we find rhythm, and rhythm is a very holy thing.
All life is set to rhythm. Time moves in rhythm around our clocks. There are rotating seasons and ebbing tides on a planet making its way across the same path in space year after year. There’s something about being caught up in a rhythm that sets us right with God, with creation, and with each other. Creation requires rhythm, and so do we. Without it our lives are chaotic.
Some people are really good at routines; I am not. Rhythm works for me where routine fails. Sure, it’s a bit of a semantics thing, but routine is about discipline while rhythm is about life. Perhaps our New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t be about our weight, fitness, or achievements. Perhaps they should be about our ability to persevere, to find rhythm, to re-make ourselves from the inside. If you’re interested in a “New You,” it’s going to require more than cosmetic touch ups and a few less pounds. A New You requires a new take on life, a new heart, a new rhythm. If the same Old You is trying to reach a goal, you’ll never make it. The Old You never did.
Instead of making New Years resolutions, what about creating an entirely new rhythm? What if you offer parts of each day to God in prayer and meditation; parts to friends and family in shared, selfless community; parts to your work so that you’re productive and contributing something to humanity as a whole; parts to creation so you’re living in a responsible way with what you wear, what you eat, what you consume, and how you enjoy all that God has made; and parts to yourself so that you’re healthy in mind, body, and spirit? Until we change our rhythm, our resolutions will never see February.
May God bless us as we enter into this new year with all its hope, anticipation, and joy. May we align ourselves more and more with the rhythm of God and creation. May our world find peace, and may 2015 be the year that life on earth becomes as it is heaven.