Well, there goes another one. For some reason I tend to be surprised that I make it through each year. Every new year that begins seems to announce that it’s my last. But maybe I’m just supposed to live it as if it were my last—with the fervor and the faith and the prayer and the selfless service of souls for God’s sake. Yes, for God’s sake, do all that!
This past year was something of milestone for me, since my 50th birthday happened in the middle of it. But what of it? Nothing is really different except that I’ve put on some weight so that my back hurts a little more now and I can take more pills to help me digest my food. Turning 50 will do that to you. Here at the monastery there are about as many fast days as there are non-fast days during the course of the year, so I don’t think I’ve been pigging out to drug myself against encroaching old age.
But a passing year is not just about growing a year older. We have to take a look at what has happened in the world around us—and especially in the world within us—and decide if there’s anything we can do about it. I used to have the habit (maybe I’ll do it again this year) of burning my trash on New Year’s Eve. It’s a sort of symbolic way of consigning my inner trash to the flames as well, every bit of junk, piece by piece, into the flaming fiery furnace. It would be much better simply to go to confession, and I’ll probably do that, too, but there’s nothing wrong with symbolic purgings, as long as we don’t leave it at that and think that thereby the job is done.
My computer is in its death throes. That’s something that happened in 2008. It’s freezing and jamming (sounds like things I used to do with fruits and vegetables) and giving me error messages I’ve never heard before, and I have no idea what they mean. Like: “A sharing violation has occurred while accessing an unnamed file.” I didn’t think I had any unnamed files in my computer. Don’t they all have to have names? By high-tech standards, my computer is hopelessly obsolete, which means it is about five years old. It still uses the “ancient technology” (I just read that) of the XP operating system. But I wouldn’t touch Vista with ten-foot mouse. Not that any of this is worth writing about…
This past year has been disastrous in some ways, like the ugly unmasking of unmitigated greed that is ruining our economy (and people’s lives) and will probably continue to do so in the new year. And like the presidential election (don’t get me started), with all that implies for the moral disintegration of our nation. The Proposition 8 passage in California was one bright spot, but the rabidly furious mobs of peace-loving, tolerant gay activists are swearing most indelicately to reverse it in 2010—after they rough up a few more little old Mormon ladies who made contributions for the passage of the proposition.
Actually, most of 2008 seems kind of like a blur to me, and I don’t remember much of it. Frankly, I don’t remember much of anything anymore; that’s another thing that happens after you cross the half-century mark. I didn’t write any books in 2008, but I’m hoping that I might write one in 2009, God willing. If only I could remember what it was going to be about…
Rather than bore you with more aimless rambling, I think I’ll just say good riddance to 2008, give thanks for what was good, and pray that what was bad will be dealt with by the righteousness and grace of God. It would be good if we could just press the delete button and have a bright new page for 2009, but unfortunately the messes we’ve made don’t just disappear as the page of the calendar turns.
There are some still-indistinct yet unmistakable apocalyptic rumblings in certain events of 2008 (I forgot I’d said I wouldn’t ramble anymore), and I sometimes wonder if I’m going to find myself living in those times in which God finally says, “Enough!” I hope not, though. The Lord said that in those days even the elect are going to have a rough time making it to the Kingdom of Heaven. I’d rather view it all from a safe and comfy vantage point On High. It’s a rather curiously unsettling thing that the Book of Revelation keeps saying, “Rejoice, you who dwell in Heaven!” and then immediately says, “But woe to you who live on Earth!”
In the final analysis, we simply have to keep our hearts and minds turned Heavenward and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, so at least we’ll be found facing God and not immersed in this passing world, rejoicing in what God has prepared for those who love Him even while woes rain down on us like cats and dogs (no offense to cat and dog lovers).
So, keep a stiff upper lip and all that. There’s always repentance and there’s always hope. After all, we’re a year closer to Paradise than we were when making our end-of-07 reflections. And closer to Paradise is all I want to be.