It's as if there is a drawstring on the end of this calendar. All the contents of the year are enclosed inside, like last week's garbage or the hand-me-down treasures we pass on. Treasure or garbage, and the strings are pulling together quick. It's all inside the confines of 2013 - but not really.
Some things are trash-turned-treasure and we'll carry them out of 2013 with reverence and acceptance. We thought we'd rather do without some of them, but it turns out, we needed them to turn us in - love and loss and disappointment and discouragement.
Other events of the year go gladly in the trash and are happily forgotten - no redeeming value, no good.
Nothing is ever completely discarded, though, and the year is not completely new. We are older, wiser, more seasoned versions of our last year's selves.
Or, we're calloused and jaded and infinitely doomed to repeat repeat repeat - something I dislike very much. Either way, the year ahead will hold some of last year with it, for better or worse.
Either way, every year holds some of the years before it.
And we're better for trying to learn from 2013; worse for trying to forget it completely.
History is a gift to us, and it does, indeed, repeat itself.
So 2014 comes in trying to look all fresh, but don't be fooled. All of our lifetimes are wrapped up in the years that have turned over before us - in front of us and prior to us - and all our futures are made up of our pasts. There's nothing new about 2014 except for its calendars and slick celebrations.
But there can be something new about us.
That's what all our resolutions are for, right? New us. New habits and patterns and achievements. New commitments to be new people.
There's nothing new under the sun except for a life transformed by Christ, I have to remember that. No new years, only fresh grace and a reminder that New doesn't need a year, just a start - right now.
In 2 Peter there's this list I love that contains all the goal-making goodness one could ever want. It's not simple in human terms, by any means, but it's a good place for me to focus and it fits the 2-Things criteria:
Peter says to add all those things together, and our knowledge of Jesus will bear fruit. He also says he's not afraid to remind us of those things, again and again - to stir us up by reminding us.
I love that. I need reminding.
I'm all for resolutions and I might love the promise of a new start more than anyone else. I'm excited for all the new beginnings, and I cherish the days between the boxes of Christmas and the boxes of my January calendar.
But I know how quickly I forget. I know how big I am on resolutions and how short I am on resolve. Simplifying and reminding might be my saving graces this year.
Loving God more and my neighbor better, adding to my faith, virtue...here's to 2014!