When we see a newborn baby we see how fragile human life is. We see the infant and hear the infant breathing and we can hear her feeble cries. Although the child has been born and although she is in our world it seems that in those early days there is that struggle for life as though the child has not yet fully crossed that bridge from eternity into existence. We see as the days of its life pass from weeks into months how that child takes on form, weight and flesh and how she grows. How in a relatively short time she sits up and begins to take notice and not only can she can make her presence known by demanding comfort and food but how too she smiles and brings pleasure to all those around her. Then there she is it seems in no time crawling and then beginning her first faltering steps falling and then rising again with the determination that is the essential human spirit, the determination to succeed, to live and to participate in this strange new world that is so full of wonder of surprise and curiosity. The child at this stage lives in the present moment; there are no doubts or fears to assail her for she lives in the now, driven on by the impetus of life to take her place in that
In this New Year we are given a gift, if we choose to see it like this, a New Year, a blank page to write and act upon, new days to savour and perhaps new ways of dealing with old problems. Surely there is potential enough in the coming unfolding days and changing seasons to make this coming year different in so many ways? One of the great themes of the religious life is to give thanks for the privilege of life but perhaps the greatest way to honour God, the greatest way to acknowledge the privilege of living, the days of our life is to live them more fully, to be awake to the presence of God in the world and to be awake to our obligations to each other.
And so we return once again to that subject, the birth of a child, the hopes for its future, its needs to be loved and protected and its eagerness to discover the world; to play and to learn and eventually in the passing of years to take its rightful place as an independent and fully functioning person to fit into society, into the local community and the wider family of humanity. At the beginning of life, there is no definite blueprint or a certain road map for any child, for the child will be he or she that it wants to be, there is no certainty, we might guess at the future but every child like every moment is unique; every child, every person.
We cannot know the future as we look at the prospect of a New Year as it stands before us. But we should accept it as a great blessing not with foreboding or a jaded sense of repetition because it is not that it, it is not the repetition of another year but the continuation of life in its unfolding drama on a cosmic scale, where all the men and women are actors playing different parts at different times, we are co-creators with God you could say in our brief lives. So let us live now with a sense of excitement of pleasure in the lengthening days and the joys that the remaining winter months will bring, and let us live in the anticipation of spring and all that will follow in its wake. And let us remember these words from the poem, The Gate of the Year by Minnie Louise Haskins:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”