New Year's Eve again


Please note: This is the final entry for the web page, "Journal 2021." Tomorrow's entry will be on a new page in my site, "Journal 2022." If you have bookmarked this page to check my journal regularly, you may want to set a new bookmark on the new page. As has been the case for several years, there is an icon at the upper right hand corner of every page in my web site that, when clicked, gives a menu of the site. Also, please be advised that the journal archives are undergoing a major reorganization, there may be entire sections of the archives that are not available at certain times. If you are looking for a specific entry, you can contact me and I'll help you find it. Thanks for the gift of your time to read my journal. May the New Year bring you many blessings.

A year ago, I promised myself that during 2021, I would go through my web site, make it more streamlined, and do something about the size of the files. Because I write an essay every day, the amount of text and pictures on my web site is fairly large and there are other ways to organize the site, especially the journal archives. Quite frankly, there probably isn’t a very good reason to have all of my journal entries available all of the time. Very few, if any, users of my site are interested in looking up journal entries from years ago. However, it takes time to do that organization and I find myself interested in other activities and put off the task. I have been doing quite a bit of background work, preparing journal archives in a different format and should be able to start transforming the archives within a short amount of time, but New Year’s Eve has come and tomorrow I need to start a new entry for “Journal 2022.”

I suppose that it has always been the case with me that I imagine I can accomplish more than I actually do, but 2021 held a lot of surprises and many things didn’t go according to plans.

So here we are, on New Year’s Eve, looking back at a year with all kinds of ups and downs and feeling like somehow this year has been momentous. It has been in many ways for us. At the start of this year, we were anticipating the development of a vaccine that would slow or even stop the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. Susan and I were living in a rental home with nine months left on our lease, feeling that it would give us plenty of time to find a home to buy and get moved. Retirement in the middle of 2020 hadn’t gone the way we expected, but we had pulled off the move from South Dakota to Washington and we knew that there were still a lot more changes ahead.

At that time, we couldn’t imagine that by the end of the year we would have received two doses of vaccine plus a booster shot, that the issue of vaccination would become political, that there would arise a significant number of people who were opposed to vaccination for a wide variety of different reasons. We were thinking that our new address might be in the town of Ferndale, but we hadn’t thought of looking for a home close to the beach. We were anticipating the return of our daughter and her family from five years of living in Japan, but we didn’t know where they would be living in the United States. We hadn’t thought that they would make their home on the opposite side of the country, that we’d undertake a 6.000 road trip with our camper to visit for our grandson’s birthday, or that we would return from that trip and go back to work.

On New Year’s Day, 2021, we were worshipping remotely with our new congregation in Bellingham. We had only worshiped in person with that congregation one time, and didn’t even know the way to drive to the church without using a map or GPS.

And now, here we are, on the cusp of a new year, firmly into the third decade of the 21st century. I’m publishing my web site from our new home in Birch Bay, within walking distance of the Salish Sea and just a few minute’s drive from the Canadian border. We are serving as the Interim Ministers of Faith Formation at 1st Congregational Church of Bellingham. We not only know the way to the church, but we have an office in that building and are working there half time. And there is a lot of work remaining on the web site.

I am learning to cut myself a bit of slack and to relax a bit when it comes to tasks that are undone. My experience of the life of a minister is that there is always much more that can be done. I never had the sensation of having finished all of my work in 42 years of serving as a local church pastor. There always was another call, another job, a bit of filing, a bit more study, and a lot more work that I could do if I had more time.

New Year’s Eve is a good time to reflect on the passage of time and consider the accomplishments of the year past. It is also a time to look forward to a new year, to renew our hope, and get to work on the things that are most important. And, for me at least, it is a time to admit my limitations. I am only one person and the timing is fairly short. I can’t do everything. I can’t save the whole world. I have just one life to live and the time is precious.

One of the things about being human is that we are aware of the passage of time, of our own aging bodies, and of our mortality. And, as we grow older, we have the sensation that time is passing more quickly. For a two year old a year is half a lifetime. A year is a much smaller fraction of my life these days and I am aware that I have more years behind me than ahead of me in this life.

Still, the new year brings renewed hope for me. I am starting this new year with a new book next to my chair. “The Book of Hope,” a collaboration between Jane Goodall and Doug Abrams, seems to be just the right place. The subtitle of the book is “A Survival Guide for Trying Times.” Indeed we are living in trying times, but there are many amazing people in this world who inspire us and give us reason for hope. Certainly Jane Goodall is a woman of hope who gives others reasons to hope and practical invitations to turn their hope into meaningful action.

So, ready or not, here we go with a new year, filled with new possibilities and, I am sure, with surprises unforeseen.

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