Most every year, following Christmas Day, I try to take a few days and backpack up in the mountains of North Georgia or North Carolina. I admit that it is, weather-wise, somewhat of a gamble. In years past I have found myself trudging through snow and generally frozen to the bone. Other times I find those last days of the year unseasonably warm. This year was a bit normal I suppose. Along with a friend, I trudged through some light snowfall, a little rain, and through a lot of clouds. Still, a bad day in the mountains is a good day overall. On our last night of the hike was were forced to dine inside our tents while rain sputtered outside. The fear of bears looking for food in my sleeping bag was sublimated by my wanting to stay dry and reasonably warm. A rising sun (and no bears) greeted us the next morning and on New Year’s Eve I emerged from the mountains – a bit grimy and, shall we say, smelling a bit woodsy – and joined my wife as we heralded in the new year with dear friends.
A New Year…a clean slate…an opportunity to do something new…or start over again. On the one hand it is just another day on the calendar. Some of you may not have had any time off in the last week or so, and so the transitions means little. Yet the days are indeed getting longer, and like a blank canvas they stretch before us waiting our creative marks.
We mistakenly assume that Christmas marks the end of the holidays and soon thereafter it is get back to routines, back to work, back to the same old, same old. Most of us by now have already taken down all the directions and the boxes are back in the attic to keep silent vigil through the long months of winter, spring, summer and fall.
Christmastide – the season many Christians around the world are still observing – is about beginnings, not endings. Not only is it the beginning of the year for the Church, it is a new beginning for each life.
What will you do with this fresh start before you? How will you seek to live more deeply, be more mindful, love more authentically? Christ has come not just in history, but comes to each of us so that we may walk more closely with God and more lovingly with our neighbor.
There is more story to tell. The year before us awaits our footprints as we trek through 2012. May Christ accompany you on the journey, through whatever may come your way.