Humor me for a second and think of the lamest thing you could be doing for New Year's Eve....got it?
Your mind's eye probably paints a picture of you in your new Kohl's loungewear, wrapped up on your couch surfing On Demand (in HD if you're feeling sassy!), all whilst eating Ritz crackers, guacamole, and that new Godiva dark chocolate assortment you found in the cupboard. With your parents. And your dog. Cranium is on the coffee table, but that possibility would've stirred up too much excitement, so everyone deferred. You haven't showered in 24 hours. You may or may not have forgotten deodorant today. You check Instagram and see that one of your best friends is randomly in Paris right now and you silently try and justify the "fact" that you're the one having more mature, adult fun.
Right here, folks. All of it. The only things I left out were that my husband, dad, daughter, and dog are all asleep on the couch, and the movie that's playing (notice i didn't say "the movie we're watching") is Hercules. Festive AND inspirational cinema.
Nothing about this New Year's Eve is typical. No new dress and heels, no parties, no fireworks or sparkly ball. No throng of friends around. But in the absence of flair, there's sentiment. Although I'm comfortably lame in my Kohl's loungewear, I'm thoughtful. As many of you have, I've reflected on the many graces, blessings, and challenges that 2014 extended.
The song that most of the world sings this night is Auld Lang Syne. (Admittedly, I thought this song was pronounced "Old Lane Sign." Can I get a witness?) This year I took some time to actually look up the words to this song that was written as a Scottish poem. I figured it'd be nice to know what all of us were attempting to sing. The second and third verses, translated into modern English, are as follows:
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since days of long ago. . .
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since days of long ago.
Kind of beautiful, right? And I can see why this is a worldwide proclamation. For some of us, 2014 was a year of slopes and daisy picking. The highs were really high, we came into our own, our dreams began to take shape. For my family and me, no slope was higher than exactly a week ago, Christmas Eve, when beautiful Brooklyn Elizabeth joined us earthside. She's simply amazing and being a mom is my favorite new role. Other slopes included being accepted into an amazing couples small group community, adventures with my sweet husband, and experiencing some of the coolest, "only God" ministry moments of my short tenure at Willow, both with our high school students and with our church as a whole. Daisy picking indeed. I know some friends who got into the school of their dreams this year, who met the love of their life, who got engaged, who found out they were becoming parents, who became parents. Others of you secured the dream job - or just a job. Some of you lost the weight and accomplished seemingly small, yet significant, personal goals. Slopes. Daisies. Stream-paddling.
But the poem also alludes to weary feet and roaring seas. 2014 brought some of that, too. My weary feet battled some health hurdles early on in the year and walked into some previously untapped personal challenges in my counseling sessions. I came to grips with my precious and strong-willed grandmother's accelerated aging, and grieved with close friends who lost loved ones. Some of your feet are more weary than mine. Some of your seas' waves were larger and more threatening: loss of a mother or father; loss of a relationship. Job loss. Money issues. Health scares. Health hell-holes. You didn't get get the house. Your business didn't take off. You lost trust in someone or something. The world is a lot more dark than you ever imagined: ISIS, Ebola, racial tensions, natural disasters. Weary feet. Roaring seas.
I'm not sure what your 2014 was like. But I do know that looking back has healing properties. Looking back to auld lang syne (days of old) produces gratitude, offers perspective, builds anticipation. Looking back allows us to honor the ways in which we were shaped and transformed. And even if 2014 was the suckiest year-to-date, looking back allows us the opportunity to say our proper good-byes. It makes the new and the next even sweeter.
The poem ends with the imagery of two people grasping hands and proposing a toast to days past. I love that. I love that we don't have to do any reflecting alone if we don't want to. I love the inherent pointing to the power of community. I love that all things - good and bad - are worthy of a toast for one reason another.
So with all of that said, I hope you take time to honor auld lang syne. I hope you count your daisies and acknowledge your roaring seas. (After all, roaring seas are still seas that - at the end of the day- harbor life.) We love to look and race forward. Before you make new resolutions, I hope you resolve to honor you and the work done in and through you over the past 365 days - you as you are right now.
Yes, this New Year's Eve is lame. But there's something about it being "lame" that also makes it awesome. I'm with the people I love. I'm literally in the midst of goodness and grace. So whether the rest of your night is "lame" or bedazzingly epic, I hope you raise a glass.
Happy New Year.