Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections and Wishes on a New Year's Eve day

I've often wondered what the big deal about December 31/January 1 is, for any given year.  To my way of thinking, any day is the end of a year (a decade, a month, an era) and the beginning of a new one.  The "official" new year used to be celebrated by much of the world in March.  Frankly, I consider the first of Tishrei (Rosh Hashana) to be my new year.

But I am willing to concede that today is as good as any to make the leap, from one year to the next,  a day on which to declare "h\Here on this side is one thing; and on the other side is a different thing altogether."  And so it is that I offer up my own reflections back and wishes forward as I straddle this watershed moment.

* 2012 was, blessedly, a gentle year for me.  After a handful of years that I'd prefer to file under whatever-doesn't-kill-you-makes-you-stronger-and-at-this-point-I-must-be-strong-as-Atlas-so-let's-just-move-on, this past year has brought a sense of comfort and ease.  For this, and for the people who walked this path with me, I am profoundly grateful.

*  One of the most amazing gifts of this past year has been seeing my son, my beloved boy, start his own journey.  He continues to question and demand, learn and grow, stumble and surprise.  In terms of milestones, he had one of the biggies, and stepped up to help lead a service and chant from Torah for his Bar Mitzvah.  He is becoming his own person, settling into his own skin, finding his own God (who may or may not exist, depending upon the day and when you ask him).  But he is thoughtful and compassionate and funny and smart and a lot of other adjectives that I will relish discovering in the year ahead and beyond.

*  My son continues to learn every lesson I have taught him, whether I intend it or not.  So, he has honed his sarcasm, made a space for a healthy (?) dose of cynicism, and is finding his own political voice, based upon equal measures of compassion and justice.  He is breathtaking in his passionate stance on equality and fairness, and if he still needs to learn to temper justice with mercy and judgement with kindness, he is well on his way to becoming a mensch.

*  I got to celebrate one of my own milestones in 2012: 20 years of sobriety.  I could not have imagined the life I am living today on that day that I, so incredibly broken, stumbled into the rooms of recovery.  I could not have imagined that I would find God or healing, and I shuddered at the very prospect of hope.  I have been given grace, and a life beyond my wildest dreams, one that is bursting to its edges with love, sorrow, frustration, wonder, awe and (yes) hope, a mess of everything all at once, and the faith to put one foot in front of the other, every day.

*  I hurt people I love this past year.  Pretty deeply.  It was not done out of spite or malice, but it came as a result of my actions.  No amount of wishing can unmake that pain.  I can only try to heal it.

*  This was the year that my father lost his voice.  Really and irrevocably.  In early September, he underwent a trachyectomy and the surgeons removed his voice box (and the cancer that had entirely coiled its way around his vocal chords).  Apparently, all those warnings written on all those cigarette packs for all those years were true: smoking causes bad things to happen.  He is alive, and cancer free, and there is no greater gift than that.  But he is voiceless-- this man who has made his living with his voice, who learned to love singing again a handful or so years ago, who used to hate talking on the phone but would always take time to chat when we called, and to whom I would not talk for days and days at a time without any thought-- I would give anything to hear his voice one more time.

*  I am now at the age when attending funerals is becoming more common, and 2012 seemed to have more than its share to attend.  The amazing thing is that, in our sorrow, we come together, as a community, to remember and mourn and comfort one another.  To paraphrase Kafka, we help each other cry, and so find strength in that.

There's more, of course.  There's always more, and 2012 proves that.  But what of 2013?  What could this new year possibly hold?  I have no idea; I gave up the crystal ball business years ago (not that I did a good job of giving it up, and can still find myself dusting it off and peering through its cracked and dusty surface for answers that just won't come).  But I do have some wishes and hopes, and I'll leave you with these:

May we remember to be kind
May we feed those who are hungry, heal those who are hurt, comfort those who are in need
May we work for peace, every day
May we strive for justice, every day
May we study some, teach some, pray some and sing some every day
May we remember to laugh and dance and celebrate every day
May we find wonder and joy and miracles 
May we find one another, and shine our lights in the darkness
May our hearts be whole.

Merry new year to all I love and hold dear.
31 December 2012