It’s another season of resolutions. I love resolutions; I love that January can be a marker, a month we set aside to take stock of our yesterdays and make better plans for our tomorrows.
A year ago I decided to take time to know my God better. It could have won the award for the shortest new year resolution list ever, but the effect of that single decision still ripples today. I’ve since learned it’s not how much you intend to achieve in a year that matters, but the quality of that achievement.
Just before the remodeling of our house commenced my dad and I talked about wisdom. The ease with which we make decisions based on current trends, and what’s acceptable today, but years after we are done reveling in the attention, we see the folly of our past choices and spend money and energy to correct the damages.
I sit in my bedroom and stare at the fresh cracks in my ceiling board. There are giant stones on my corridor and the parents have since relocated to another bedroom in the east wing of the house. Our living room is in terrible condition. The aluminum roofing sheets are totally gone and every morning I am jolted out of sleep by the slap of mallet on concrete above my head. There’s no telling when the ceiling boards will finally give way and cave in on me. The entire experience is frustrating. Yet there are nights when I stumble my way through the corridor to the living room, look overhead and have a perfect view of stars twinkling in the night sky. And I think that perhaps the remodeling process isn’t so bad after all.
There are two things this tells me:
One is that a new year resolution does not necessarily mark the close of a chapter or the beginning of a new one. Like a remodelling project, it can be a moment in time when we choose to retrace our steps and reconstruct.
Two, there will be clutters and times within the year when this new project seems like too much of a burden. It helps to remember why we’ve embarked on that journey in the first place and the quality of life we will have when it’s over.
Whether we are on a course to reconstruct yesterday, remodel, or simply taking more giant steps on the path we’ve been all along, I hope that when it seems like chaos is all there is we remember to look above and see the stars.
A man is at his finest towards the finish of the year;
He is almost what he should be when the Christmas season’s here;
Then he’s thinking more of others than he’s thought the months before,
And the laughter of his children is a joy worth toiling for.
He is less a selfish creature than at any other time;
When the Christmas spirit rules him he comes close to the sublime.
When it’s Christmas man is bigger and is better in his part;
He is keener for the service that is prompted by the heart.
All the petty thoughts and narrow seem to vanish for awhile
And the true reward he’s seeking is the glory of a smile.
Then for others he is toiling and somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas, he is almost what God wanted him to be.
If I had to paint a picture of a man I think I’d wait
Till he’d fought his selfish battles and had put aside his hate.
I’d not catch him at his labors when his thoughts are all of pelf,
On the long days and the dreary when he’s striving for himself.
I’d not take him when he’s sneering, when he’s scornful or depressed,
But I’d look for him at Christmas when he’s shining at his best.
Man is ever in a struggle and he’s oft misunderstood;
There are days the worst that’s in him is the master of the good,
But at Christmas, kindness rules him and he puts himself aside
And his petty hates are vanquished and his heart is opened wide.
Oh, I don’t know how to say it, but somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas, man is almost what God sent him here to be
. ~Edgar Albert Guest
I find a lot of truth to this poem. And I pray that the spirit of this season carries all of us into the new year and always.
Shine on 🙂
I woke up today, walked outside and sniffed the air. It was there: Christmas. I could smell it in the cold, dry wind that signaled the beginning of the harmattan. It was there in the dust that twirled in the air; in this incredible heat from an angry sun, ever less often punctuated by rain. Rain in November was crazy– if anyone knows the seasons in Nigeria you know there should be none of that past October. But Lagos is the city cushioned by the Atlantic. We get rain whenever and harmattan only when it wins the battle of seasons. Yet there’s Christmas. I heard my first jingle yesterday: Jingle Bells, odd song to sing without snow or sleighs. But the season transcends international boundaries and brings with it a spirit of oneness. I can pretend the mist outside my window, sneaking in beneath glass panes isn’t trying to dry out the oil on my skin or dissipate the next hour, leaving in its wake chapped lips. I can pretend its snow like all the Christmas movies I’ve seen.
Soon corporate buildings will light up with decorations welcoming clients and customers with some cheer. The shops will advertise hampers filled with regular everyday items, strung together with red and green bows. And yes, I get to close work in a few weeks and run home—home could be the village back East with the rest of the family, sucking on marrows from goat meat pepper soup, or it could be here in Lagos, enjoying the road without traffic congestion and the freshest air you can breathe for a while.
For the first time all the stress and heartache of this year suddenly melts away. The moments of joy I’ve experienced seems like nothing compared to what is coming ahead. I finally get what the Apostle meant when he said leaving behind the past and striving for what’s ahead. There is no certainty what’s ahead, but somehow there is no fear of tomorrow—just hope. Lots of hope and a joy that cannot be explained
It’s amazing what one month can do. If we could take half the cheer of December and distribute to gloomier months—like October or May—there’d be so much left. I think though that December’s cheer lies in the knowledge of the end of a season and hopefully the beginning of a new one. The anticipation of meeting loved ones again. Perhaps the added joy that comes from bringing happiness to others. And there’s Christ—the birth of hope to a world filled with sadness. It’s a good time to remember what the 25th means for Christians all over the world.
Christmas will come whether there is heat, cold or rain. It is ironical though that a season of birth and life will be heralded by another season of dying plants. But who cares? Death hasn’t been more appealing knowing that when it’s past, new life will bloom again. I think it will be nice to forget what day it is for the rest of the month and watch it glide by gracefully.
May your lives be filled with all the cheer December brings.
Discombobulate. That’s my word for 2014, alongside befuddled, arduous and complicated. It was the most horrible I’ve had in all my twenty-ish years of existence, and if the stories and conversations I have had are anything to go by, then a majority of the world population share my sentiment. Continue reading