Columns, Grace Notes

Blessed new year

The current editor of Metro Lutheran has continued the practice of his predecessor of displaying a year’s-worth of Metro Lutheran front pages on one of our office walls. The day that an issue is sent to the printer, up goes a photocopy of the front page, replacing the front page of that month’s issue from the previous year. When the front page of the December 2010 issue was affixed to the wall above my desk near the end of November, the swift passage of another year was graphically portrayed.

A friend once explained to me that each year of our lives seems to pass more quickly than the one before it because, as we get older, each year is a smaller percentage of the total number of years we have lived. When we are four years old, a year is equivalent to 25 percent of the amount of time we have been alive. A year seems like a long time. Do you remember how slowly time passed between one of your birthdays and the next when you were a child?

Jean Johansson

Each year of our lives seems to pass more quickly than the one before it because, as we get older, each year is a smaller percentage of the total number of years we have lived.

When we are 60, a year is less than two percent of the amount of time we have lived. We feel like we just took down the Christmas decorations, and then it’s time to put them up again. (If you wait until near the end of Advent to put them up, the time seems a bit longer!)

So, here we are again at the time of year for making New Year resolutions. This year, instead of making resolutions, I’m thinking about some of the blessings that came my way in 2010.

The biggest blessing of the year came when, after weeks of grueling treatment, my daughter received the news that she was in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I celebrate her health, her excitement about life, and her renewed appreciation for the simple daily pleasures that we so often take for granted. Other blessings were mine simply by opening my eyes:

* I raised the window shade one morning and saw, low in the just-brightening southeastern sky, the breathtaking beauty of a waning crescent moon, with the planet Venus nearby. Days later, the thinnest sliver of a waxing crescent moon hung low in the southwestern sky at twilight. In its arms, it held the faint silhouette of the darkened moon that, in a few weeks, would cast nighttime shadows as the full moon.

* While I was looking at the lake out my cabin window, a pileated woodpecker landed on a tree within my line of sight. The impressively large bird worked its way up and down the bark, searching for insects. This kind of woodpecker is a shy bird, and I count myself lucky if I have one sighting of it a year in the north woods.

* The children in my neighborhood adore my “rescued” dog Chance. I can’t help but smile as I walk down the sidewalk with him, and the children greet us with “Hi, Chance,” rarely “Hi, Jean.” The power of a cute 10-pound dog, who receives each day, and everybody, joyfully.

* I spotted a large, stunningly beautiful green darner dragonfly in early fall clinging to the lush porcelain berry vine covering my backyard pergola. As I left for work, it remained motionless, waiting for the warmth it required to be able to fly.

The prayer that asks God to protect us so that “we who are wearied by the changes and chances of life may find our rest in you” reminds me that fighting discouragement on a daily basis is a human condition. Maybe it just seems like life these days, for so many people, is a little harsher than it used to be. God’s promised presence is the warmth we need to allow us to head into the New Year and the unknown, confident of the blessings we will find.

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