We will soon be saying goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021. Many are eager to see this year be finished. What is it about starting a new calendar year that makes things seem different?
Perhaps I’m a bit of a realist. I know that things won’t change overnight. All of the challenges and issues experienced in 2020 will not suddenly disappear when the clock strikes midnight. Not only will some of the difficulties remain, but there will be new ones that surface. New graces and blessings will also be introduced in the coming year. It’s important to remember that events are not contained within a particular timeframe, like a day, month, or year; however we use a particular timeframe to measure events within our lives. Considering that the calendar we now use, generally called the Gregorian calendar in honor of Pope Gregory XIII who commissioned the research and proposed the changes, is a relatively recent formulation. It was only in 1582 that Pope Gregory XIII announced this new method of tracking days to align better with the solar year than the previous Julian calendar. It also allowed for Easter to align closer to the spring equinox, which is how the date is calculated (the Sunday after the first full moon of the vernal equinox).
While we now celebrate New Year’s Day on January 1st, that was not always the case. It sounds odd, but the New Year was celebrated on different days in different countries, usually based on the equinox, either in March or September. Even today, many countries celebrate New Year’s Day in different months based on either an equinox, a lunar phase, or due to following a separate religious calendar. Yet for those who celebrate New Year’s Day coinciding with a new calendar year, it brings thoughts for a fresh start and hope that life will be better. We make New Year’s resolutions to improve ourselves. Starting new things on the first day of the first month of a new year just seems logical. Oftentimes we are successful for the first day; it’s the subsequent days that can be challenging. In reality, every day provides us an opportunity for a fresh start. And when we fall short of what we expect of ourselves, we can start again once we acknowledge our shortcomings and resolve to do better starting at that moment; no need to wait until a new day/week/month/year begins. We should not let our method of measuring time dictate a new beginning. Rather we should notate our resolve of starting again within the present time scale and celebrate our improvements on a regular basis.
While God is beyond or outside of time and space, as the Creator, He is constantly in a loving act of creating all things anew. He wants us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be: that is to do His will out of Love for Him. When we resolve to improve ourselves in the coming year, let us seek His guidance and support, regardless of whether the improvement is spiritual, physical, emotional, etc. And when we need to restart, He’ll be there to support and renew our initiatives. For the challenges that arise outside of our control, either again or new, let us surrender to His Mercy and Love that give us the grace to accept our dependence on His omnipotence to see us through.