Blessing the Old Year
Welcoming 2022 with gratitude
As we await the turn of the calendar to 2022, I’m moved by the words of the blessing (below) from John O’Donohue: “We bless this year for all we learned, for all we loved and lost.”
2021 was anything but carefree. Many people will be glad to see it go. But I love the notion of blessing a year as it departs and looking back with gratitude to the last twelve months for the gifts — of grace and of grief — that came to our lives. Instead of just kicking the old year to the curb of history, we might listen to its world-worn wisdom even as we are wooed by the hope of a new-born year. It may be that we need reflective appreciation for what has been more than resolutions about what will be.
Take a few minutes in the remaining hours of 2021 — What have you learned in the last year? What have you loved? What have you lost?
Perhaps by blessing the old year — saying goodbye intentionally and purposefully — we’ll find the strength, resolve, honesty, and courage to face 2022. Grateful hearts are resilient ones, and thankfulness can actually build a better future, creating what researchers call an “upward spiral” of well-being. I don’t know about you, but I’d sure appreciate 2022 becoming an “upward spiral” of communal health and compassion!
That is my prayer this New Year’s Eve. Bless you, 2021, for all we learned, loved, and even lost. We look with expectation to the gifts of 2022.
At The End Of The Year
— A Blessing by John O’Donohue
As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.
The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.
Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.
The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.
The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.
Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.
We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.
(It is) a somewhat misguided view that gratitude is all about looking backward — back to what has already been. But, in reality, that’s not how gratitude truly works. At a psychological level, gratitude isn’t about passive reflection; it’s about building resilience. It’s not about being thankful for things that have already occurred and, thus, can’t be changed; it’s about ensuring the benefits of what comes next. It’s about making sure that tomorrow, and the day after, you will have something to be grateful for.
— Professor David DeSteno, Northeastern University
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE COTTAGE!
— Richard Wehrman
It’s not the day on the
calendar that makes the
New Year new, it’s when
the old year dies that the new
year gets born. It’s when the
ache in your heart breaks
open, when new love makes
every cell in your body
align. It’s when your baby
is born, it’s when your
father and mother die. It’s
when the new Earth is
discovered and it’s the
ground you’re standing on.
The old year is all that is
broken, the ash left from all
those other fires you made;
the new year kindles from
your own spark, catches flame
and consumes all within
that is old, withered and dry.
The New Year breaks out
when the eye sees anew,
when the heart breathes open
locked rooms, when your
dead branches burst into
blossom, when the Call comes
with no doubt that it’s
calling to you.
A HOLIDAY GIFT for YOU!
During the Twelve Days of Christmas, you can listen to the Cottage conversation “Advent Awakening” with me and John Philip Newell talking about Celtic spirituality, the Incarnation, and seeing the sacred in the world. The “picket fence” paywall has been taken down for these 12 days - so EVERYONE at the Cottage has access and can share the video with friends. The link will close at 11PM on January 5.
I hope you’ll enjoy it!
CLICK HERE to be taken to the unlocked page! Make sure to watch it this week!
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An online event offered by CONVERGENCE/FAITH LEAD.
SUNDAY, January 9 from 3:00-5:00PM eastern
Convergence/Faith Lead hosts me and Rev. Cameron Trimble for a conversation about the state of our institutions, ruptures in our culture, opportunities for people of faith and what Epiphany offers us as a lens to move forward. (This event is not produced by The Cottage.)
Convergence offers 10% discount to Cottage readers. For more info: CLICK HERE
Please get your vaccine booster, wear a good KN95 mask in public, and give others comfortable space. Experts insist that the next two weeks will be very hard. Stay safe, friends. And keep those you love safe as well. Care for one another as we face this COVID viral blizzard.