Minister’s Musings – January 2021

Dear Ones- Well, 2020 is finally coming to an end.  I think, for many of us, the response to this is “Thank goodness!”.  It has, indeed, been a trying year in many ways.

Of course, the reality is that at midnight on December 31, nothing REALLY happens.  January 1 dawns.  The world continues.  And because we have collectively DECIDED that January 1 is New Year’s Day, that’s when it is.  Nothing magical has happened.  The calendar is, after all, a human invention.  New Year’s Day could just as easily be on any other day of the year (and, of course, in some cultures it is).

But our ancestors did, in fact, collectively decide that the new year will begin on January 1.  So that’s where we are.  I must admit that even in a “normal” year I approach the new year with decidedly mixed feelings.

On the one hand, there is often some degree of sadness and regret.  It means another year older, another notch on the imaginary yardstick the measures a life.    This year has been particularly difficult, as we continue to live in fear of the pandemic, mourn the hundreds of thousand lives lost and the additional millions whose lives have been disrupted in this country alone, without even considering the effects on a global scale. Less important, certainly, but nonetheless melancholy(at least for me) is putting away the Christmas decorations and looking at the empty spaces where there was once bright, warm glowing lights and beautiful holiday vistas.   The world just seems a little duller and more drab.

It comes in what is, for me, the worst possible time of year. I admit it- I don’t much care for Winter.  While the greeting card picture of a snowy Winter’s eve is a delightful fantasy, I’m not crazy about the reality.  I don’t like being cold, or having to be bundled up, or having snow melting on my floor (where I inevitably step wearing only socks on my feet!), or having to shovel icy sidewalks, or any of the things that typically accompany Winter.   I don’t like hot chocolate, and I know there’s still plenty of cold, nasty, miserable weather ahead.  So clearly, Winter is not my favorite time of year.

But on the other hand, there is also a kind of excitement, isn’t there?  A new year brings an array of possibilities, of potential, of “might-be’s and maybe’s”.

It will hopefully see most of us vaccinated against the Covid virus, and beginning to hold in-person gatherings once more.  Perhaps there will be a feeling of “returning to normal” (or, at least, a sort of “new normal”).

I look forward to our being able to hold in-person services once again!  To shake your hands, and give and receive hugs, and look into your very real, very beautiful faces.

I also look forward to (hopefully!) a calming of the rhetoric coming from our national leaders.  We will no longer be subjected to daily “tweet storms”, or wondering what the next political outrage will be.  Perhaps there can be a quieting of the political animosities that seem to be inspired and encouraged by the outgoing administration.

For the Jewish New Year, Jews often eat apples dipped in honey, symbolizing a sweet year.  This seems like a lovely New Year tradition that we might all adopt.

And so, Dear Friends, I wish you a joyful, loving, safe, productive, warm and beautiful New Year.  May we each enjoy an apple slice dipped in honey, and make 2021 a sweet and wonderful year!

Wishing Peace and Blessings,

Rev John

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