New Year’s Eve is a traditional time for reviewing the past year. We create annual Good Riddance lists to burn during the evening. Those lists contain the things that we hated about the year.
This year, we also created two more lists: a gratitude list and a list of events where we saw God at work The gratitude list is self-explanatory. The list of God at work takes a little more thought.
I look back through the journals of the year to find days of unexpected blessing … when I can see God at work. Sometimes it’s obvious: a sermon that hit me over the head and changed the way I acted for the rest of the year. Or a family member who agrees to take medicine needed to improve his life.
Other times I can see God is little acts and coincidences: the time I accidentally knocked a treasured prayer candle I’ve had for decades off the mantle. The glass part separated from the candle and the metal, landing without injury in an empty basket. How did that happen? I think it was God, who demonstrated His presence in the tiny, but deeply important, aspects of my prayer life.
Looking for God in all the small places and the big events is an excellent way to begin 2022. Please join me in having a holy encounter on this New Year’s Eve.
I’ve just read my 2020 journal entries and composed my Good Riddance list. We’ll burn the list … our worst of 2020 events … this evening. But is this enough to say good-bye to such a year?
It’s a start. 2020 featured my mother’s funeral, the death of a pet (Clarence, the sweetest cat on Earth, RIP), COVID infecting four family members, and lots of time in the house. We cancelled four vacations, and we didn’t get back all the money. I didn’t get to see my granddaughter in New York nearly enough. Especially hard at Christmas.
Re-reading the journal, I found a lot of blessings. For one thing, I’m seemed to clean the house a lot. More important, I did follow through on my efforts to use the year as an extended retreat. I took plenty of on-line workshops and read useful books. I followed my own Liturgy of the Hours, and I felt more consistently in prayer with Jesus.
Someday we will all look back on this time and … what?? I hope I can be grateful for the good. Do spend some time today counting your blessings, burning your Good Riddance list, and practicing the presence of God.
We have many rituals on New Year’s Eve, and none involve partying.
During the day, I re-read my journals, which include prayers, to get a full scope of the year. As I read, I keep two lists: things to praise and things to which I say “good riddance.”
The “good riddance” list goes into one of our few remaining ashtrays to be burned. Illness and hurt and my husband’s career: Goodbye to all that.
I open a Bible where I keep the prayer that I wrote to God on New Year’s Eve last year. After reading it and reviewing my praises, I write another letter to God to be sealed away for 365 days.
Then, when we are home, we go to our church’s Watch Night service. Our church is diverse, and this service is a great gift from the African-American tradition. We sing, listen and pray for the return of Christ until midnight. Then everyone enjoys a dessert potluck. (We usually book it home, as midnight is an aspirational time in our calendars these days.)