The end of the year is always the same for me. I have this very uncomfortable couple of days of looking back on the year closing and looking forward into the coming New Year. And when I do that I look back with a mixture of gratitude and some degree of awareness that I could have done some things better and I look forward into the coming year with a sense of gratitude and hope.
This morning as I looked over the Revised Common Lectionary readings for today, the last Sunday in 2007, it appeared to me that the lectionary was doing the same thing. In Isaiah 63:7-9 the "gracious deeds" of God are literally being recounted. And Psalm 148 talks about telling the whole of creation about what God has done and suggesting that every thing and every one on earth would profit from praising God. This sounds to me a lot like what I call making a "Gratitude List." I sometimes sit down and think of all the things in my life that God has done for me and all the things that I have participated with God to accomplish. I think of all the people in my life who have helped me and supported me and how they are images of the Christ for me. The passage from Isaiah refers to the "presence" of a human being that relieves distress and carries me when I am too weak to go on. Making this list is a wonderful experience for me, writing it down makes it more real to me, and telling other people what and for whom I am grateful fills my heart with joy.
As I read these passages this morning I realize that if I concentrate on the gratitude I have I cannot fall into the fear of the future or remorse for the past. If I concentrate on the present and look honestly at the past to learn from mistakes and into the future with hopeful anticipation I can live in comfort and peace as I grow and progress. The comfort and company of my friends, my brothers and sisters, is what sustains me in this gratitude for what is and looking with hope to the future. The passage from Hebrews 2:10-18 speaks about what we share as brothers and sisters on this journey. We share responsibility for comforting each other and for working for justice together to "free those who all their lives were held in slavery." We together can release ourselves and others who are held in slavery to the powers of the dominant culture, held in slavery to insecurity and self doubt, held in slavery to the pain of spiritual abuse some of us have experienced as GLBT people of faith in churches who condemn us. Perhaps it is too hard to do alone some days. But with the love and support of other human beings who know what this pain feels like in the body we can survive and grow and learn to achieve peace of mind.
So for today I will crawl out of my self imposed solitude and go out and help some friends do a good deed for a mutual friend. I'll learn how to install flooring and chit chat about how much we love the one for whom we're doing the deed. And I'll enjoy talking about what really matters ... love, sobriety, faith, hope, and healing.
Today I choose to live in gratitude and hope not gratitude and fear. It's a small shift in consciousness to move from fear of the future to hope and anticipation of the future. And if I get discouraged I will look to my friends and family for support. So does it matter whether I worry? Yes. It takes away moments of my life that I could be giving encouragement and hope and freedom to others.
So come on 2008! I can't even imagine what magnificent wonders God has in store for me this year. But here we go! I'll let you know how it all turns out.