New Year’s Eve: The Compression of Our Transitions

Photo on 11-26-14 at 1.06 PMIs that we want to forget as quickly as possible? Or is it that we hope to avoid apologies, and the uncomfortable dynamics of meaningful reconciliation? Maybe burning bridges, or ignoring the lessons of history are acceptable options in a world where we are always moving forward and leaving the past behind as thought it were a conquered enemy. We have new bridges to build and burn, and a new year of experiences to stumble and bumble through.

Transitions of learning and contemplation are compressed into minutes, hours, or in more benevolent moments – a day. Even given a day, we haphazardly consider changes we want to make, and often they are superficial passing notes in the composition of our lives, or hopes connected to moving on toward nothing in particular.

This happens to us all from year to year, because our fast-food, fast-decision-making, quick-success, driven culture forces the moments of deepest transition to be compressed, because after all, there are more important things than get done than the positive transformation of our souls. A rite of passage such as the fading away of an entire year, or the dawning of a new age is allowed a day, a day and a half at best, and most of that is shrouded in the fog of a drunken forgetfulness of dropping balls, cases of Bud Light, and an occasional champagne toast. Who needs contemplative learning? There are things to get done.

These moments are when some of the most radical concepts behind teachings of the Christian scriptures clash with our culture, and challenge us to behave differently. Jeremiah identified every single day as a transitional rite of passage, “His mercies are new every morning” becomes a statement of resetting life everyday, and coming from the Book of Lamentations, these words were set in a season of deep tragedy. Moses asks us to remember the stories from the past. The writer of Hebrews tells us that the history of the Old Testament was written for our example, telling us that the stories of the nation of Israel were stories about us, and we could learn how to live by watching the successes and failures of a nation. The contemplative life is meant to exist in a combination of daily practice and holy-days. It is far too tempting to compress those days into a quick expression of a haphazard New Year’s resolution, followed by a party.

May your New Year transition take on the dynamics of the great contemplatives of history like Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus. Maybe this will be my resolution this year: to allow the moments of transition to last a little longer in my heart, and in my contemplation. I will revolt against the compression of our transitions. This is slow-food for the soul.

Slow-soul-food, yeah, sounds like a new New Year’s habit.

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