Today there seems to be dwindling interest in those aspects of life which once could stir us into a state of at least temporary enthusiasm: new discoveries, new goals, New Year resolutions. Recently, after being with families and friends not living my lifestyle, I became aware, more acutely, that this observation is not peculiar to myself. Have you, too, noticed a pervasive spirit of pessimism, negativity, and cynicism in the air? Consider the more obvious examples. How much daily conversation is taken up with the stubborn resistance of our elected Congressional leaders toward making compromises, the cost of living, the problems associated with nuclear power? Have you resented having almost two days of your earnings fed back into the tax system each week? How often have you had the feeling that no one cares about anything anymore, that we are the victims of inevitable fate which threatens to engulf us at an ever faster pace? As one joker observed about opinion polls, “So far, ‘don’t know’ has a solid lead, ‘undecided’ and ‘don’t care’ are tied for second place”! Perhaps this New Year can be a reminder that beginning again is not enough, especially if our beginnings simply mean trying to do the old things better or doing them over again in a different way. Instead, we may need to put new wine into new skins. It takes courage to put the new wine of changed attitudes into our way of thinking and it takes even more courage to transform these new attitudes into concrete ways of action. But it can also prevent the coming year from being something other than a re-run of the last one. More, it may be the only way we can adequately prove that Jesus did, indeed, make us a new creation. If we customarily celebrate the New Year by toasting our friends, we might add another wish this year: “Here’s to courageous living”!
—Mary E. Penrose, OSB
|Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.|