"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"~
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"~
We are in the last hours of 2011. My, how fast a year goes. And it is true that things end, a year passes, some things, some people, we will never see again. Some of us will have lost a dear one. Some will have lost jobs. Some will be in such drastically different circumstance at the end of this year that they would not have believed possible at the end of 2010 as the clock neared the near year. But here we are, where we are, on the verge of where we will be. And the one thing we can always count on is change, and as the poet T.S. Eliot so wisely wrote, "To make an end is to make a beginning."
I am not alone in my tradition of spending New Year's Eve taking stock of the past year -- lessons learned, mistakes made, joy experienced, people who have left my life and others who have entered... someone whom I still long for, deeply, who has been gone from my life for a few years, but whom I have learned to carry in my heart and carry on, animal companions who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge and others who have arrived, a book not written, lessons I hoped to learn not yet learned, and joy so great it breaks the bounds of every expectation I might have held, and so much more. -- Yes, an old year is passing and another is about to begin.
I do not regret any of the hard times, or disappointing times, for they have brought me to where I am today and we can never regret who and what and where we are in this moment. We have a whole new year to carry on toward the goals we will set for ourselves, not the typical New Year's resolutions (Does anyone ever keep those?) but the goals we set for ourselves, the ones we feel deep inside even if we have not yet fully acknowledged them. We know what we don't want to repeat, we know what we want more of, we know the changes we want to make and those changes that we have begun to make that we want to settle into more deeply. These things needn't be spoken, we carry them inside like a woman pregnant with a child, these things that are full of potent possibility abundant. I have always, even in my darkest hours, been a glass half full kind of woman, and so I shall always be. I believe my loved one will return, I believe that this year I will finish my book and that it will change my life, I know that there will be roads not yet taken, roads I could never imagine taking that I will indeed take with joy and delight, filled with surprise and wonder, and I know that there will be hard sad times that I'm very glad I cannot foresee. These things, all of these things, are part of the human experience. And so I reflect back over the last year, and feel the excitement of the year to come.
Too, I treasure the present moment and all it holds. I am not out celebrating as many are, I am in my humble home, listening to the washer going and clothes tumbling in the dryer. I am sitting in my desk chair writing with my four beloved pugs all snuggled together on blankets under my feet. My air filter is humming away next to me, and the dogs and I have been out and will go out again and as they wander around the yard and do their business I will look at the garden, barren now, but I see next year's garden in my mind -- vegetables, herbs and flowers -- and one thing I will do this night is order seeds. That feels very significant. There are seeds I can plant and scatter in our warm coastal region teetering back and forth this year between freezing and temperatures in the seventies, because they need to be planted in late fall or winter. I will plant them at the beginning of the New Year, and the spring garden will begin even when I cannot see it. Gardens are an enormous act of faith, as is life. I have faith that this year will be full of so much that will fill me and change me and no matter what comes this time next year I will be grateful for it all. It will not all be easy, there will perhaps be grief and sadness beside joy and wonder, but it is all part of life moving forward. The beginning of the new year will find me planting seeds in my own life, with hope, and faith, and the determination to carry through even when I cannot yet see the results. We are all gardeners in our own lives. Having faith is the key to yielding a good crop. Some things won't sprout and grow, but there will be plenty of things that grow in such abundance it will take my breath away. That is how I see the new year.
This year I am 57. In April I will turn 58. In 2011 I finally hit the tipping point, my menses stopped and I am now in menopause. Many women dread it. I am simply delighted. I am now a crone. I will grow in wisdom and appreciate life more everyday. I can use the wisdom I have gained and that which will come to help those younger ones around me, and in spring I will have another grandchild, another daughter giving birth, a celebration unparalleled. I feel a deep sense of peace as I grow in faith. I embrace the tenets of many faiths and my life is all the richer for it. I am more and more open to the richness and diversity of the world, and my life expands accordingly. I walk around my house doing my daily round of chores whispering "Thank you," over and over again, to God, to all that I hold sacred, to the angels and spirits that companion me on this journey, and I grow more and more filled with gratitude for the smallest things. These are abundant riches for if we can celebrate the smallest things, those things that come along that are bigger than we could ever have imagined send us over the moon, into the cosmos, we can touch the stars.
Tonight I will go out with the dogs and I will reach for the stars, the stars that sparkle in the firmament of my life even though they are still far far away. I am content to wait, because there is so much to do along the way. Everything will unfold as it should, and the very thought of that delights and excites me. I wish you a new year filled with good health, peace, contentment, and all good things that life can bring. I wish you the strength and people to support you lovingly through the hard times. I see so much that is possible for all of us. Let us plant our seeds, and watch our gardens grow.
To the New Year and all it will hold! Let us bow in gratitude for the old year as it passes and open our arms wide for all that the new year will bring. That is how I will say goodbye to the old year and greet the new year ahead. To 2012! To life and all it brings..