I love this time of year. Not only Christmas, but also the natural end and beginning of the year. We see posts about everybody we lost this past year, the “best of” lists in culture/film/TV/music, market winners/losers, and predictions for the new year.
It’s December 31st. Tomorrow is January 1st. There’s nothing inherently different between the two days. Same weather. Same season. Same sunset time. Yet, we feel something is different. A New Day. A New Season. A New Opportunity.
Without time and markers, life just blends together. Days and weeks merge. It is like being in solitary confinement where any awareness of time and date is lost. Without these markers, life could feel dull and mundane. Repetitious. We need rhythms, markers, and reminders of the various aspects of life.
Every religion and culture celebrates festivals and holidays because they understand the significance of time. Recently, Christians celebrated the season of Advent, which focuses on waiting and hope. Soon it will be Lent, reminding us our weakness, sin, and mortality. All throughout the year there are days that stand out for various reasons. Valentine’s Day is about love. It is not that this is the only time we should or could express love. It is just a special moment to focus. The same with a birthday or anniversary. We should regularly show our appreciation, attention, and love to our family or friends.
In the past, farmers had natural reminders for work, rest, and harvest. Workers knew when to finish their day, as it grew dark. Now we have electricity, internet, and smartphones. We can be productive at any moment, any hour, from anywhere. We are forced to be deliberate in designating our rhythms for our days, months, or year.
New Year’s Day holds no magic. Just another day. But, it can be a spiritual or communal fresh start. Calling us to forget the past and look ahead. Pick yourself up from failed goals, empty pursuits, and rise to become your best self. It’s a New Day. A New Chance to start again. For your health. For your spirit. For your finances. For your career. For your relationships.
In Japan, it is common to have a “big cleaning” (大掃除) right before the New Year. Though this practice may have deeper Shinto meaning, I love the idea of clearing out the mess and beginning fresh.
Here’s to the New Year. A New Start. May your rhythms awaken you to the new possibilities for what God may do in and through your life.