Just a few more hours left – in the U.S., at least– in 2010. I hear that close to one million revelers will be gathered in Times Square up in New York City tonight to bid 2011 a hearty welcome. Millions more will be hosting or attending all sorts of shindigs and soirees, celebrating the memories of auld lang syne (old long-ago) and toasting those the New Year has in store. But after the hors d’oeuvres are reduced to crumbs, and all that’s left of the champagne and other, ahem, festive beverages, is a hellacious headache, many people will wake up tomorrow and start…resolving.
I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions lately, and trying to do so without cynicism. I, like most of you, I would guess, have been there, failed that when it comes to making promises to myself at the dawn of a new year. Personal examples include: be more organized by: a.) keeping an address book b.) filing c.) writing appointments on a calendar, not my hand or random scrap of paper; taking Pilates twice a week; learning an instrument; reading through the entire Bible.
I eventually jumped off the resolution bandwagon and into the status quo station wagon. 😉 That’s not to say I don’t embrace change or think I need to improve my habits, attitudes, or learn a new hobby(far from it!). I’ve simply found that reaching goals is much more easily achieved when approached one by one, and in small, unobtrusive steps. For example, salads with vegetables. I used to detest them, but apparently they’re good for you. So, I resolved to include just a handful of greens for dinner each night with a protein source of some kind on top. From there, I chopped up a few mushrooms and mixed them in. Soon enough, I was having a mega-garden salad just about every night. (By the way, I really do want to learn to play the banjo. My first baby step was calling for lessons, which should commence in two weeks!)
So, as I’ve been thinking, I’ve been doing a little bit of investigating as well. There has to be something substantial, something relevant and practical to this whole resolution thing. After all, just about every American tradition I can think of from Easter egg hunts to hanging mistletoe has a deeper, more meaningful raison d’etre that transcends mutant bunnies and required kissing.
This past year and a half or so, I’ve been reading and studying about the Jewish roots of Christianity, and it has truly enriched my relationship with Christ. Anyway, I’ve learned about the Jewish new year, called Rosh Hashanah, which means, “Head of the Year.” Observant Jews celebrated the arrival of 5,771 back in September. (According to scholars who have meticulously studied the ages recorded in the Bible, 5,771 is the number of years since creation.) This “holiday” was instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25. In the Bible, it’s known as Yom Ha-Zikkaron, or, “Day of Remembrance.”
The Bible proclaims that the season of Teshuvah, “return,” which includes the Hebrew new year, is a time for repentance. A shofar (ram’s horn) is blown repeatedly for thirty days to exhort people to turn to God and reflect upon their destiny.
There’s a lot more that could be said about Teshuvah, but I think it’s fascinating that God, who is, to use valley girl terms, totally into seasons, festivals, and appointments (moedim), invites His people to a special season of repentance and reflection once a year. So, instead of making a well-intentioned list of objectives or skipping the tradition altogether, I think I’ll use this time to shuv (turn) to God and ask Him to guide me down the paths He’s prepared for 2011. I can’t wait to see where He leads me and His children!
Have a safe, happy, and blessed New Year!
Stay fit, stay faithful,