January 2019: Thought For The Month

December 22 2018

January: ripe with new ways of living

IT'S bleak, the decorations have been packed away, we are all considering our expanded waistlines and hoping they will magically shrink by the end of January. Money may be tight. Christmas and all its excitement and glamour are well and truly behind us. I imagine many of us are feeling ‘what is there to look forward to but cold wet winter days?’ January even holds the record for having the day considered the most depressing of the year ‘blue Monday’; there will be a host of reasons for this phenomenon and we may be experiencing some or all of them.

The question is, is this all there is to January? The annual expectation of new years resolutions may feel like a burdensome ‘to do’ list but the concept might hold some wisdom. In Christian tradition, and other traditions, there is a school of thought that suggests it is only in our darkest moments we can begin to see a new perspective, a new hope. 

When all of our comforts are stripped away we must, by necessity, find new ones. 

New resolutions offer us the chance to rethink, and reimagine our priorities. In the midst of January bleakness, when the temptation is to be swept up in the frenzy of January sales, just for something to do. 

We can instead choose to embrace the slowness and our temptation to hibernate. Then we may, in the darkness, in the emptiness, find new patterns of being that are more fulfilling, which offer hope. 

The Old testament prophet Elijah found himself running on empty, as any of us may well be in January, and cried out to God for some comfort. Elijah was surprised to find that God was not in the spectacular of the storm or earthquake or fire but in the gentle whisper. In order to hear the gentle whisper that nurtures our soul we must first be still, make quiet space. 

The bustle of life can drown it out. A new resolution may, for us, hold a commitment to quietness or prayer/meditation in each day. 

A new resolution may for us involve meeting with other people who are also seeking the gentle whisper of something divine, of hope. Or perhaps we have heard the gentle whisper and yearn to respond.

 For Christmas 2018 our group of East Bristol churches responded by going out to meet the homeless of our city and gift them with rucksacks full of useful items to be more comfortable in winter. It was a humbling experience to be connecting with people who are struggling while all around others are overspending, overeating and over partying. 

Their choice to reimagine is not as easy as.

January may feel empty but it is ripe with new ways of living, new ways of connecting and of giving back. I would encourage us to embrace the choices new resolutions afford us.