Happy New Year!

What do you make of these ‘new year’ quotes?

“Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits.”

“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”

I’m not big on new year resolutions, but the turn of another year is a helpful prompt to ‘reflect’, celebrating and learning from the past, to move forward with gratitude and determination to make the most of another year of God’s grace.

Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was convinced that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but I do believe that the unexamined life – one that does not make regular time to reflect – is not lived as wisely and well as it could be with more thoughtfulness.

But what can prevent us from reflecting so intensely that we end up, like Narcissus, drowning in self-absorption?

According to Greek mythology, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool, not realizing it was only an image. Fixated with the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus was drawn in and drowned.

What might save us from such self-centredness and help us reflect more objectively to recognise both beauty and flaw? Seeing a tiny louse (like a flea) on a lady’s bonnet at church, with ‘exocet wit’, Robert Burns wrote: “O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us! It wad frae mony a blunder free us, An’ foolish notion: What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us, An’ ev’n devotion!”

Sometimes we need to be freed from false and abusive images people impose on us in childhood and later life, but regularly meeting up with one or two friends, whose opinion we value and trust, can be sobering and helpful in the ‘healthy reflection’ department.

I meet monthly with a retired minister who allows me to rabbit on. He offers searching questions and experience to help me learn much more from my reflections. Indeed, it is his instruction to spend an hour each day in quiet, which now feeds my days with more purpose and power than before, when I tended to get lost in self through hyper-activity.

It’s giving God more chances to have a word in my ear and help me see things from his perspective, such as through reading the Bible and prayer.

Perhaps there’s someone you could seek out to help you in this way?

As some of us regularly pray, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

God’s Best in, to and through you in 2023!