REV. GAIL LINDSAY MARRINER
UU Santa Fe Minister
Happy New Year friends! Parties and nostalgia. Fresh new calendars. A new number for the year. New Year’s resolutions. We count and measure, we decide how to divide the year–we break our lives into seasons and decide when the old season is past and a new one begins. We crowd our days with parties and events and then empty them out again and in this process we make the old year new.
We are always in the midst of one new year and at the turning of another. There are lots of overlapping years that happen simultaneously. There are seasonal new years and community new years. Our congregation’s fiscal year starts in July and our program year begins in August along with the new school year. The Jewish new year comes mid- autumn. Our cultural year starts January first. The Chinese new year begins in February and surely someone somewhere must celebrate the new year at summer solstice. The start date for a new year is arbitrary. What’s important is the impulse to mark the passage of time. We need opportunities to look back, remember, grieve and celebrate all that has happened. We need moments when we pause to look forward and plan for what comes next. We need rituals that give us the resolve to start fresh and prompt us, as the reading says, “to begin again in love.” New year observances invite us to do these things.
After the escalating celebrative chaos of the winter holidays I am glad to pause for a moment at the hinge of the year before we move back into the ordinary business of our day to day rhythms. Although they are essentially the same patterns as I was living back in October and early November, after the solstice holidays they seem somehow calmer and more spacious than they did before. I like that feeling of ease and clarity so I make resolutions to preserve some open times, stay connected with family, return email promptly, exercise and eat wisely. It never lasts long. My calendar fills up, my to do list gets longer, and I find myself back in the hurly burly. Fortunately, there are new years aplenty and the chance for a “reset,” the next opportunity to refresh our resolutions is never more than a few weeks away. If you missed your chance for New year’s reflections on December 31st, the Jewish New Year of the Trees is coming right on January 20th and the Chinese New Year follows on February 5th. Happy New Years, Friends!
Steven serves UU Santa Fe as Consulting Lifespan Learning Director
We are spiritual beings by birthright. We are not human beings seeking a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings encountering a human experience. What we do here is Human Being Training.―Steven Mead, Religious Educator
Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the great Jewish Reconstructionist theologian, mused that "Religion asks three things of us: to believe, to behave, and to belong." Covenantal as we UUs are, we put a lot of freight into behaving and belonging. But being theologically ornery, not so much in believing—now, don’t misunderstand, we think believing is important, but not one way or another usually. So I would like to suggest that we Unitarians are asked to Behave, Belong, and to Be something. Being. Now to Be something, that takes training—Human Being Training. That’s what we do here—in our sanctuary, in our classrooms, in our meeting rooms, and in our community engagement. And for Unitarians, there is scarcely a more urgent obligation than teaching our children and youth. Of their Becoming.
Now, Human Being Training is a long process and if you think yours is over, I remind you of Paublo Cassals, one of the world’s greatest cellists. Throughout his entire life he maintained a disciplined regimen of practicing for five or six hours every day. On the day he died, at the age of 96, he had already put in several hours practicing his scales. A few years earlier, when he was 93, a friend asked him why, after all he had achieved, he was still practicing as hard as ever. “Because,” Casals replied, “I think I’m making progress.”
I think I am making progress. If this isn’t an expression of Becoming, I don’t know what is. Young or old, we are all Becoming—so that we are comfortable in our own skins—with our identity—that we live a life of grace and graciousness in our community, and that we understand that we a part of something greater than ourselves. There’s your Unitarian bonafides for you: right relationship with self—our unique self—with others—our communal self—and with the sacred—our universal self.
What’s your story of Becoming?