Thursday, December 31, 2015

Spiritual Resolutions: Keeping the Light Lit

Ah, that time of year again, when we make resolutions.  Many of us will begin our diets tomorrow.  We'll start an exercise program in the next week.  We'll cut down on our drinking or other bad habits.

Some of us might make spiritual resolutions.  Maybe this is the year we'll pray more.  Maybe we'll go on a retreat.  Maybe we'll be in church every week.  Perhaps we'll crochet a prayer shawl or work on a quilt for refugees.  Maybe this will be the year that we give 12% or 15% of our income--or maybe we'll finally achieve our goal of tithing.

Any of these resolutions would be a perfectly fine thing--even if we only did them for a month or two.  But perhaps this is the year to think about the larger reasons for why we do the things we do.

In the past, many of my resolutions, both spiritual and secular, revolved around me, me, me.  This year, I'd like to think about the larger culture.  How can my resolutions help improve the world around me?

When I think about my past year's spiritual highlights, I remember the Godspa Women's Retreat in September.  But I don't remember it because it strengthened me spiritually, although it did.  It was a highlight because it brought me closer to the women in my church--and those relationships have strengthened our local church in a number of ways.

Similarly, I think of our Christmas day experience of taking a peace lily and a card to the Muslim mosque that's down the street from our Lutheran church.  While it was interesting to experience a Muslim service, I have hopes that we did more that day--that we helped build our South Florida community.

This year, I want to adopt a simple spiritual resolution.  As I move through the day, each and every day, I want to be aware; I want to ask myself, "Are you building community or are you tearing it apart?"

I live in a world of fraying fabric when it turns to community.  There aren't huge, gaping holes, not yet, but the unraveling is clear.  My workplace is full of anxiety about the future, as I imagine many halls of higher education are these days.  For much of the day, every day, I am surrounded by people who are upset, people who are sorrowful, people who are angry beyond reason, people who spend their hours haunted by worst case scenarios.   I turn on the TV, and it's more of the same.  Even moving through the world eavesdropping on the conversations of strangers, I hear negativity and doubt and suspicion. 

I want to keep that Christmas message in my head all year.  I want to remember that although we live in a land of deep darkness, the darkness will not overcome the light.  I want to work to let more light into the world, not to dampen out all the lights around me.

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