How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Did you make any? If you are like most people you will have slipped a bit or not even got started. In the days when we could go to the gym, I believe that some 80% of those who joined with enthusiasm in January hadn’t actually got there, or had ceased going by the end of February. That is what being human is about – good intentions but not always fulfilled. ‘That I would, I do not. That I would not, I do.’
I love the phrase, ‘No failure, only feedback’. It means that when I haven’t managed to do what I have set out to do, or done it less well than I had hoped, I can treat it as an opportunity for learning, for changing things, for renewing my efforts.
I did make some resolutions. The same ones as last year and the year before and the year before that and probably the year before that. I have chosen the same resolutions because for me they are central to my journey through life and my relationships to other people. I see them as part of a continuing process and not a set of outcomes to be achieved.
Janus, the Roman god after which January is named, is, of course, depicted looking forward and backward. At the turn of the year it is good to review what we have succeeded in, what we can do better and help ourselves to move forward. As human beings, however, we have a tendency to focus on the past – with nostalgia or regret – or on the future when things will be better and we will have achieved our goals. But what about ‘now’? Isn’t that where we are? How do I want to relate to myself and other people now, in this moment?
Last Sunday (10 January) Bishop Mark addressed the congregation and particularly those who had been baptised and confirmed. The first of his four points was about ‘repenting’, which, as he said, we tend to think is ‘saying sorry’. He reminded us, that this is only part of it. It actually means ‘re-thinking’, saying sorry and then taking on a new way of life – God’s way and, as he said, serving Christ in all people. And that is a moment by moment challenge.
Thomas Merton, the American Trappist monk put the challenge this way:
“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognise the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”