New Year’s resolutions are curious things. Like making wishes before blowing out birthday candles. We feel strangely compelled to make them, and equally uncompelled to keep them.
Making resolutions, promises and wishes before a new year of time is one of our rituals. It is a way, especially following a year such as 2021, to deal with significant anxiety, isolation and disappointment, and to set forth new resolve and aspirations. Time’s turning points remind us of our mortality and of the sanctity of life. Some how we feel better if we take with us into a new year a measure of hope and some new commitments.
There are garden-variety options: Exercise more, eat less; spend less, give away more; pray more, worry less; complain less, praise more.
On balance, however, I believe an overarching theme was advanced by King George VI in his Christmas Eve address to the people of Great Britain in 1939. He was quoting from an obscure poem written by Minnie Louise Haskins earlier in the Century, published in a book entitled, “The Desert”: “And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’ So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.”
In God’s grace, may we trod gladly into the new year.