Out with the Old, In with the New
As we bid adieu to the old year and celebrate the new, let's pause to reflect upon the past and look ahead with optimism and determination. With families gathered for the holidays or spread across the planet and staying in touch via e-mail, now's the perfect time to take a look back at 2011, acknowledge the challenges we encountered and express gratitude for the blessings we received, to recall what made us laugh and what made us weep.
Affliction and blessings are polar opposites. Or are they? Often unexpected misfortunes bring unexpected comfort. I am reminded of a series of articles Pulitzer Prize-winning author Rick Bragg wrote for Southern Living following the devastating tornado that roared through Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 27 April 2011. From What Stands in a Storm: When the Winds Died Down through Faith, Food, and Fellowship, the Alabama native writes of the devastation of "a gothic monster off the scale of our experience and even our imagination...killing hundreds, hurting thousands, even affecting, perhaps forever, how we look at the sky."
In Faith, Food, and Fellowship, he shares his experiences of how survivors harnessed their faith, food, and fellowship to help each other. Families, friends, neighbors, even strangers, rallied to do whatever needed doing~from comforting, feeding, and housing to clearing debris and repairing roofs "because it looked like rain." In his words, "there was no end to this generosity."
I am reminded of the World War II reminder to Londoners living with the Blitz: Stay Calm. Carry On. Staying calm and carrying on, doing what needed to be done in the aftermath of death, injury, and massive destruction could not undo the affliction. Yet that coming together demonstrates how closely tied tragedy and blessings often are.
Among the oft repeated maxims I heard growing up, one stands out: "It could be worse." I've learned that's always true, whatever the problem. As we embark on a new year, let's resolve to keep calm, carry on, and no matter how beset with problems we become, to acknowledge we're fortunate even in our misfortunes. Likewise we must remember to be a blessing to the afflicted.
We wish you a new year filled with peace and beauty, joy and love.