There is nothing wrong with bringing resolution and courage to the new year,
but life is precarious. And dealing with the death of friends,
tragedy striking unexpectedly and bits of one’s body giving up,
needs more than just well-gritted teeth.
Life is indeed precarious.
None of us know where it will take us next.
I dare say we all have some sort of notion of where we’d like to go,
even as to how we’d like to get there…but again, there are no guarantees.
Bishop Ashenden, in his wanderings and wonderings over the notion about new years
and their resolutions, has a bit of a lesson for each of us.
Now first we must note that we are a number liking people—-
just consider the fact that we are all about stats and numbers,
especially if we are wanting to justify or clearly define that with is unjust or undefinable.
Statistics show that they, being stats, are stacked against resolutions.
This we know.
Numbers don’t lie right?
Just yesterday I read some headline stating that by February, 80% of every New Year’s
resolution, is simply scattered by the wayside…
discarded and forgotten.
I don’t even bother.
I learned years ago that resolutions are simply short lived—
somewhat feeble attempts of being a better/ healthier person.
It takes more than just a resolution for those two things to take hold.
And when push comes to shove—the resolutions get shoved.
And it is that very reason, the good bishop notes,
a resolution will simply die…
Because Life simply has a different plan.
Life will put up a brick wall and all resolutions not to mention stamina, mindset
and determination quickly head out the back door.
Yet for many of us, a new year becomes some sort of giant reset button.
A time to review, remove, rewrite, renew….
And that certainly has its merit….
that is, up to a point.
Yet what the good Bishop is reminding us of is that as life has a way of
steamrolling over our best of intentions and plans, so much so that when that happens
as it eventually will, it’s going to take a lot more from within to survive
much more than a resolution or even gritted teeth that are grinning and bearing
Life is hard.
It is not fair nor is it often kind…
And yet….we always seem to think that with some sort of twisted finagling,
we can beat it and actually win.
And we might actually do so but only for a while…for eventually,
Life in the end will have its way and that is when we in turn call it calamity,
sickness and even death.
And so the good Bishop looks to one who has gone on long before us but yet lives
on in her writings….
St Julian of Norwich (1373).
Julian had a tenacious belief in God.
She was what was known as an Anchoress….or one who literally attached
or anchored themselves to a church.
She was literally sealed up into a cell attached to the church of St Julian’s
there in Norwich, hence her name—as we really don’t know her actual name.
(here’s a bit of history lesson concerning this dear woman:
Julian spent a lifetime devoted to God and ministering to those who would come
to the window of her cell seeking solace, prayer or wisdom.
Julian experienced visions and wrote these visions down—
as the writings eventually became a book, Revelations of Divine Love.
Tenacious and unrelenting—the only way Julian would extol that one should or could
best live…and that was to be anchored to the Divinity of the Creator and to the Love
He offered as in the tangible being of His Son…..
Bishop Ashenden notes that “it’s this belief in God that offers the kind of
affirmation for us that equips us best to deal with uncertainty,
and even tragedy, as we face the future remembering the disturbing
uncertainty of the past.”
The good Bishop relays a story of one of the many visions that Julian
was so famous for having–visions of God as Divine Creator.
Delusions of a mad or even physically ill woman some would claim….
but a gift of visions is what the faithful know….
So when Julian witnessed God taking the planet Earth and holding it in
His hand she responds by asking Him about its now seemingly smallness…..
‘It is all that is made.’ (God replied) I marvelled how it might last,
for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness.
And I was answered in my understanding: “It lasts and ever shall,
for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.”
Julian of Norwich
Throughout her visions she was taught that God could and would bring good out
of evil and because of that there was no need for anxiety.
Her motto and mantra became,
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
and perhaps Julian gives us the best of resolutions…to know that all shall indeed be
well when we rest in the Divine Love of God which is found incarnate in Christ, Jesus.