Monday, December 26, 2011

Spiritual Housecleaning for the New Year

“Let it go.”  --English idiom meaning to leave behind, forget, or release

Two days until the really big countdown that will usher us all from 2011 into 2012.  Since last December 31st at midnight, when that big shiny ball descended in Times Square, New York, we’ve lived exactly one year or 12 months or 52 weeks or 365 days or 8,760 hours or 525,600 minutes or 31,536,000 seconds.  WHEW!  We’ve walked through all four seasons: from the snows of January and the mud of March and the buds of May and the dog days of August to the colors of October and the frost of December.  

We’ve aged one more year. The red cells in our blood stream have replaced themselves three times, the white cells once and skin cells 24 times or more.  If young we’ve grown up, perhaps added a few inches in height or a shoe size or two.  If on the older side of life we’ve gotten grayer or maybe even slowed down a bit.  All quite an amazing trip, this journey called human life.  For finally time is unrelenting.  It can’t be stopped or frozen.  Time goes and goes and goes, keeps on ticking. No turning back the clock.   

So how was your year, all that time passed by, all that activity, the energy, the forward momentum? That’s a great question to ask ourselves as we begin a new year.  To look back. The cliché is for us humans to make plans about all we hope to do or to be or to accomplish in the next 365 days. “I resolve to….” 

But before we depart that which was, for that which will be, here’s an alternative New Year’s spiritual exercise to consider.  What do we need to let go of before we cross the threshold from MMXI to MMXII ?  What do we need to leave behind?  To forget? What do we need to forgive ourselves or others for?  What mistakes that we made in 2011 need to be finally laid to rest?  What regrets are we hanging on to that are best left behind in the dust of 2011?  What are we still carrying that is all too heavy for our hearts or our souls or our minds?  And are we ready to let it all go?

For always the past is like a closet, one we humans can easily fill up with all kinds of memories and ruminations that we keep on piling up and accumulating, stacking sky high in the recesses of memory and thought.  A person we hurt by what we said or did not say, by what we did or did not do.  A relationship still unreconciled. A regret for something we hoped to have done but then fell short.  A goal not quite achieved. A dream deferred or lost.  An ending that happened too soon.  A beginning that never had the chance to bloom.  What’s in your 2011 closet?  And are you ready to let it go, to clean out that cluttered psychic space at years’ end?

In religious faith, believers have formal ways of achieving this house cleaning, this letting go.  Christians confess, name their sins and stumbles and then receive absolution from God.  In the Jewish tradition Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is the day to go to temple and repent for sin, to give it all up to God then let God take it all in and in this ritual find forgiveness, even redemption.  Buddhists confess their faults to the Buddha in meditation.  Faithful Muslims pray five times daily and in this act bring their whole selves to Allah.  A good friend of mine makes a “let it go” list each year on the December 31st and then seals it up in an envelope and tosses it into a roaring fire.

Regardless of the “hows” of this rite, the effect is the same.  A weight is lifted.  A slate is wiped clean. You get honest with yourself and your God and maybe even another human being.  Most important you let it go. And then in letting it go, you are ready to begin again, to begin anew, in a new day or a new year.

So perhaps along with prepping the house for the 31st, we can also prep our souls for the year ahead too. This is the week to spiritually clean house, to muster up the courage and the humility to venture into the back closet, discard that which weighs us down and then get on with this amazing and wonderful and awesome and hard and challenging trip called life.  God knows we are all dragging around things which are best left behind in yesterday and last year.

2012 is coming. 2011 is fast drawing to a close. But before we cross that bridge, let it go.  See you next year.



1 comment:

  1. Hey John - nice post. Was very good for me today (struggling with many of the above - and lots of resentments). BTW - great portrait of you on this site!
    Wendy MO