January One

january-1-calendarI woke up this morning with the same urge for a deep, dark cup of coffee that woke me up December 31.  I went to work (priests and holidays don’t mix should be a bumper sticker) and everyone seemed beaming while everything was the same.

There’s something about holidays that puts the “Scrooge” within us aside and suddenly we become the person our parents always hoped we’d be.  But like most toys carefully wrapped under the Christmas tree, torn open and played with for a while, we slowly return to the familiar, the practiced, the patterns of our lives that brought us to this new year.  “It’s worked this long so why tinker?” says me who has no January resolutions to break in February.

“Change.”  We hate it in our lives but welcome it when any politician spews it toward victory.  “That’s right, we need a change,” says faithful voter and the warm seat is replaced with somewhat the same tush.  Change is fueled by need.  When my favorite slacks no longer fit then change takes on a dynamic meaning.

I think most of us take a sailor’s notion of living life, “steady as she goes.”  Stay steady and what you thought was a problem will magically disappear.  It’s the power of the mind.  “If you think it’s real then it’s real” can get a lot of real time airing in our heads as long as perception doesn’t enter our mindless equation.

Left to our own wits we can easily outwit ourselves.  Even Scrooge believed himself to be doing the best he could under his circumstances of an unhealed past that haunted his present and stifled his future.  “I’m happy,” he says to himself as he slurps his evening porridge alone with a minimal glow from his fireplace.

Perhaps the metaphor for any new, beginning year.  We ask ourselves, “How’s the glow from our fireplace?”  “Can our profession retrieve that young person’s anxiety to open the carefully wrapped gift under the tree?”  “Can we uncover the unpredictable in the predictable especially in family where we think we have everyone figured out?”

The calendar says a “new year” whether we’re new or not.  The calendar says, “again” when we sometimes fight the repetition.  The calendar says, “another chance for change” and may we always choose to vote for change even if our tush is the same.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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