It's not a big deal, really. Why can't we begin a new year every day of the calendar, after all? What's the actual meterlogical difference between January 1 and, say, April 1? In both cases, the darkness falls and the sun rises, and I think of Thomas Merton: "When the sun rises, each one of us is summoned by the living and the dead to praise God." The truth? Every day we start a new year.
Nonetheless, even in this skeptic's mind, this particular morning is different. By way of some humanly engineered mathematical architecture, most all the citizens of this planet tell each other that yesterday is the past and today, this next moment, is the future, and future is just another word for hope.
I don't know that I've ever made a New Year's resolution, but this morning I certainly know the impulse. Outside my basement window, the world is dark as night; those skinny naked branches of the crab tree, like the pine's behind it, are being roughed up by a northwest wind that's without a doubt a killer, the temperature buried somewhere beneath the imaginable.
But still, this January 1st, locked in the freezer of midwinter, it's impossible not to feel as if all things are new again and that this desk, this computer, and--good Lord!--all this stuff in the basement, that everything is smiling with the hope that this year, somehow, things will be different. Not that I'm complaining. Not that last year was so wretched. Not at all. But this morning, New Years, even that irrepressible Scrooge in me seems unable to staunch the promise of nothing less than hope.
It's here in the darkness, here in the keys, here in the plain grace of a chewed-up, early morning apple, it's everywhere--this very strong sense that, for better or for worse, once more we're going to give it the old college try this year, once more we'll work hard and hope and pray for the best.
This morning's thanks is for the ritual of hope that embellishes every last brand new year.