Marking a new year
1582 is when we adopted the Gregorian calendar, which for us in the Northern hemisphere above the Tropic of Cancer means the dead of winter. Strange time to mark this annual passage, when the sap is flowing back to the roots and the ground is covered in the dead epithelia of of a distressed creation. These are gray days, and I, for one, already long for the warmth — this particular dissatisfaction growing with age. It may be appropriate, then, that this is when we try to imagine new beginnings . . . when our longing is the greatest and the Spring still feels out of reach. We need some magic, some mojo, some fetish into which we can project our wishes in the hope that it staves off desperation.
Many seem to believe that this is a reprieve from 2020, which has gained a reputation as some special terror: pandemic, “natural” disasters, white-knuckle elections, social discord, an economic shipwreck. As if when the clock strikes midnight between December 31, 2020 and January 1, 2021, we will be freed.
Meanwhile, the machineries of our new era — exterminism — chug and puff and squeal, the smoke still rising, the engines burning bodies, the erasure of species on course without pause, the parasitic class still enriching itself on our tears. No wonder we desire this brief excursion into the counterfeit of hope — wishful thinking.
Here is my prayer for 2021. I pray we learn sobriety and radical acceptance. The way ahead is arduous and filled with dread. I pray for a strengthened faith — confidence in things unseen. And hope — the real kind — that stretches its hand into that dread, finds its purchase, and holds on. And I pray for love. I’ll let St. Paul carry this prayer home.
If I speak in the tongues of human beings and of the angels, but do not have love, I have become a resounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophecy and know all the mysteries and all the knowledge, and if I have a faith, of a sort that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I distribute all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may be burned, and do not have love, I am profited nothing. Love is magnanimous, love is kind, love does not boast, does not bluster, does not act in an unseemly fashion, does not seek for things of its own, is not irascible, does not take account of the evil deed, does not rejoice in injustice, but rejoices with truth; it tolerates all things, has faith in all things, hopes in all things, endures in all things. Love never fails; but if there are prophecies, they will be made ineffectual; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be made ineffectual. For we know partially and we prophesy partially; but, when that which is complete comes, what is partial will be rendered futile. When I was an infant, i spoke like an infant, I thought like an infant, I reckoned like an infant; having become a man, I did away with infantile things. For as yet we see by way of a mirror, in an enigma, but then face to face; as yet I know partially, but then I shall know fully, just as i am fully known. But now abide faith, hope, and love — these three — and the greatest of these is love.