Sunday, January 1, 2017

Forth and Fear No Darkness

A Welcome to 2017

2016 was an odd year. There was much happiness in it - a marriage; a couple births; a family trip to Disneyland; my trip to Ireland; very good friendships; the curious sense of reprieve and renewed purpose that came after the election. There was also a good deal of strife in it. Battles which were thought to have been won, had only been stalemated, and had to be fought again; difficult decisions, with bitter aftermaths; misunderstands; anger. If I had to summarise the year in one word, I think I might have to fall back on 'discouraging' - or possibly 'disheartening'. However, though some of that strife is following us into the New Year, I find myself standing upon the first day of 2017, with a feeling of hope. Not, mind you, the sort the is brightly optimistic - the sort that takes a good hard look at things and still choose to trust, and wait, and keep courage. 

I would be hard pressed to explain why exactly. It is something that has been sort of perking along deep inside me for the last month or two - a feeling that God is both testing His people, and also showing them great compassion. A sense that, to quote St. Paul, "Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation." It isn't really that I expect a sudden reversal of fortune and all to run smoothly, but rather a sense that things could have been so much worse, and that I had better attempt to be as generous with God as He has been with us. However, there is nothing like a good dose of The Lord of the Rings to make concrete those half thought-out ideas. My family and I finished out the year with a 3 night marathon of Lord of the Rings watching. It is a good movie to end a year. Perhaps and even better way of starting it - which, given that we finished The Return of the King at 5 minute before midnight, we practically did. It is magnificently full of ordinary people doing the right thing, because it is the right thing, and it doesn't matter what happens afterwards, it has to be done. It is full of Hope, bright as stars, sharp as swords, hard as stones - the sort of hope that makes one stay the course, even when it is hopeless, that makes modest Heroes and Knight Errants. It is full of Grace, of Courage, of Purity and Innocence, and Goodness. When was the last time you thought of dying for Beauty? Or faced a battle of any sort, knowing that there was no victory in it and fighting it anyway, because you must, and to refuse to fight would be a worse defeat than death? It is rather amazing that such a story should have been made in our day and age.

It had a good effect on me. It is responsible for the shift from merely wanting to be disciplined, and show God I appreciate is Goodness, to deciding to greet the new year, and all the joys and troubles it brings with it, with Hope. To be like Sam, and see re-crowned kings, and untouched stars in the midst of the black of Moria. To be like Boromir and Faramir, who were willing to die for Beauty and Light and Music. To be like Theoden, who says, "no more dispair" on the eve of a battle he fully expects to lose. To be like Frodo and bear my burden as well as I can, like Merry and Pippin, whose courage is unexpected - like laughter in the dark. I will fall, I expect - Boromir did, and Theoden did, and even Frodo did after a fashion - but falling is not failing, and I hope to be like them in getting back up, and trying again.

I have made New Year's resolutions for the first time in memory. I have toasted in the New Year with good whisky, and a prayer for the grace to be true to this course. There is joy in it, and it is oddly humbling. So here's to 2017!

Enjoy an old New Year's Day song, and a Happy New Year to all!

1 comment:

Miss Melody Muffin said...

I echo your sentiments. 2016 was an extremely hard year - not without bright spots but overall very tough- but 2017 means a new year full of new challenges and I will fling my head up and tackle them straight on, doing my utmost to face each new battle with courage.

Thank you so much for this post, Mahri! It was beautiful and encouraging. Here's to a better year and if not better, then at least good fighting for all of us!