New Year’s Hope

By the time this is published the year will already be filled with busyness. As for me I will be thinking about the Feast of the Epiphany. As for you that means Twelfth Night and thinking about Mardi Gras Balls. Perhaps we will all be rejoicing in a Saints Super Bowl victory or maybe saying, “next year!”I will be thinking about Ash Wednesday and Lent. As for you – well maybe “giving up” something like drinking too much or losing five pounds might be on the mind. My thoughts will wander invariably to Holy Week followed by Easter and maybe your thoughts might be wandering to what outrageous bonnet will be worn for the Easter Parade. In April my thoughts will go toward the Dodwell House Extravaganza which is THE principal fund raiser for St. Anna’s Church and missions. Maybe your thoughts will be on Jazz Fest, The Angola Rodeo, French Quarter Fest or Gay Pride in June! We will start off projecting our plans and thoughts and hopes barely moments after the baby drops, the echo of fireworks subside, and we weave our way home on New Year’s night.

Maybe this year we can get a handle on murders and poverty in New Orleans; maybe. Maybe this year The National Episcopal Church will authorize same sex marriages (right now it’s up to local diocese). Maybe this year homophobia and hate will decline and tolerance and understanding will rise; maybe. Maybe this year Royal and Dauphine Streets, in Bywater and Marigny, will be paved smooth and repaired; maybe. Maybe this year a street car line will really be started on St. Claude and politics will vanish and the line will go all the way to Poland Ave! Maybe this year we won’t have a hurricane; maybe. Maybe I or you will win the big lottery; maybe. Maybe this year will just be perfect; maybe.

As unlikely as it seems a perfect year can happen even if none of the foregoing happens; even if all of the foregoing happens. It can be perfect if only fragments of our hopes and plans develop. It can be perfect. Because perfection is not found in our accomplishments. Because no matter what, we could have always done whatever it is better. Even Michelangelo, I am sure, saw the imperfections in his work. Even the best i-phone-pad-pod will not stop the occasional unanticipated delay or derailment of our schedules. Yet, it can be a perfect year.

Then, with all of this unfulfilled frenzy, what might a perfect year look like? Reconciling with an estranged friend or lover makes for a perfect year. It removes an always present darkness and adds light and life to the year that was not possible before. Such reconciliation might take some time or happen in an instant and instant of grace. Realizing that with all of our short comings and for all of our errors we have profound value. Such a realization may well come as an epiphany or an awakening. Such an epiphany would make it a perfect year with darkness and personal self loathing removed; yes that would be a perfect year. As a priest I will add that this is precisely the way Jesus wants us to know ourselves – as persons with profound value and worth. Not perfect in ourselves but nonetheless of great value.

A perfect year can be the one in which we find that “someone” in the midst of all the clutter. Not a toy or object to be consumed and thrown away but a life-long fulfillment – that “someone.” That would be a perfect year. It may be a year filled with fear, trepidation, even the occasional argument which makes for knowing one another. That type of special someone who gives you much and you need to give them much in return. Yes, that would make for a perfect year.

Maybe one is adrift and feeling alone. Look up! See the stars in heaven not as cold suns but warm harbingers of life and know that truly you are not alone. You have value even in the universe because God has crafted you with the utmost care. If you see that starscape or wonder at the sunrise and you feel a part of it all – you are not alone. In that instant, you will have a perfect year.

The perfection that I am talking about does not understand imperfection as a failure or travesty, just another aspect of who and what we are and what the world is. We live in imperfection and indeed we thrive in imperfection because when we have that instant of perfection we know it, we can see it, we can feel it, we can experience it; and it makes for a perfect year. The key is simple, have ears to hear and eyes to see. Seek those moments of perfection. Become a cause of perfection by what we do or how we respond. Seek perfection. As it was once said, “God became man so that man can become God.” Reconciliation, finding a life partner, knowing self worth and value, are only a few ways, albeit basic and fundamental ways, to have a perfect year.

Our communities must seek a perfect year because we deserve it. Both individually and as a community is it so hard to find that one person that you should reconcile with? If that is possible can we not find that one community that we should reconcile with? As a person if we seek and are blessed to find a life mate; can it be much harder to bring that sense of self sacrificing love into the open and begin to show it to the world as a way to be? If we can just see the stars at night and know that we are not alone and indeed that we have value how hard can it be to begin to see others around us as having value of being the human starscape in our communities?

So, let’s plan our year. Let’s prepare for the hectic pace of living. Let’s not reflect too much on what is past and focus on making this fractured and unfulfilled life – perfect. That, after all, is God’s hope for us all.