January 1, 2018. The beginning of a new year. It’s cold and, though past the winter solstice, still dark – a time more suited for hibernation than for making a fresh start.

There’s no purchase in complaining. Finding a new date for New Year’s is not anyone’s problem looking for a solution. I can actually find something to appreciate in the timing. It’s an extra holiday that, in partnership with Christmas, can bookend an opportunity for downtime, a cushion on which to relax and perhaps even to reflect a bit after the frenetic holiday rush.

Our January theme is Circle of Life, a theme that calls us to reflect on the cycle of the seasons and the cycles of our individual lives, a theme that calls us to look both forward and back.

In the spirit of that theme, I looked back at what I wrote in this column a year ago, a few weeks before the new administration settled in our nation’s capital. I quoted Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Darkling Thrush,” and I said, …we are called to hold on to the Hope in the breast of the thrush that sings to each of us. In the year ahead, we, too, must choose to fling our souls and sing out our truths into the gloom. We will not all follow the same paths, and we will not all agree. We will still tend to our families, our jobs, our pastimes, our spirits, and one another. And we are called, urgently, to join with partners locally, nationally and internationally to work for justice, decency, fairness, the protection of our planet home, and the basic tenets that sustain our democracy.

Through all the thoroughly disheartening events of 2017, my spirits were buoyed by all the ways in which you and we have done just that – we have tended what needed tending in our individual lives and we have joined with others to work for justice, the protection of our planet, and the basic tenets that sustain our democracy.

I am looking forward to 2018. I know I will continue to be inspired by and find hope in the ways we are caring for our planet, our neighbors, and one another.

The solstice is past. The days are again growing longer. I hope your holiday celebrations brought you joy, and I hope you have had a chance to rest on the cushion that the week before New Year’s Day provides.

I am ever grateful to be your minister – Happy New Year!

The Circle of Life Journal is on our website.Janets signature