As we were ringing in the New Year a few days ago, I couldn't help but think of some of the joyful events that occurred during 2018. Of course, for each person and family the tone of last year varied. Some families were blessed with the birth of children and grandchildren, others celebrated weddings and high school and college graduations, while others entered into a new job opportunity. Admittedly though, the highs enjoyed by some were met with sorrowful lows by others.
One of the benefits of attending seminary, providing pulpit supply, and working in retail (not to mention communicating through social media), is that people networks grow abundantly. Through ordinary conversations, I hear the joy and see the jubilant smiles on people's faces when something positive happens to one of their children or grandchildren. As a person who shares One Body in Christ with humanity, I share in the happiness of these people. However, as I talked with numerous friends near the end of 2018, I was reminded of the grief that we also share with those who have lost loved ones within the last calendar year. Some were grieving the loss of an elderly mother or father, or husband or wife in 2018. While each person's grieving process is different, being One Body in Christ also allows us to share in another person's memories and sadness upon their loss. Each person has different needs, but sometimes just offering a listening ear provides nurturing and comforting elements to someone as they begin the journey toward healing.
Realizing that New Year's resolutions are pouring through our hearts and minds, particularly during this first week of 2019, I would like to express a couple of mine. Later this year, as part of my ministry journey, I will be performing Clinical Pastoral Education (known as CPE), most likely at a hospital. The program is structured as a class with the students experiencing the role of a chaplain by being "on call" during "real-life" hospital situations. In other words, because I will be exposed to grief and suffering while performing CPE, one of my resolutions is to prioritize listening to others with a compassionate and patient ear, allowing others to express their grief or any other emotions.
Another of my resolutions touches on a more upbeat theme as I have resolved to laugh more when laughter is appropriate. It is amazing how the energy and spirit of laughter is contagious whether at church, school, work, alone or with our families. You too are likely making a resolution or two that will positively impact the energy and spirit of those around you.
As we begin our journey through 2019, let us do so by reflecting the divine qualities that our Lord exemplifies in Colossians 3:12,
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
Happy New Year to all!