Cross the Threshold into a New Year

We have nearly reached the final hours of 2017, and what a year it has been. Take a moment now to reflect on what you've learned, significant choices you've made and events you experienced. What can you be grateful for?

Even in the midst of negativity, we can find things to be grateful for if we are determined to do so. If this year was marvelous, your task will be quite easy. In fact, it may be difficult to stop! If this year was challenging, how were you changed or affected in good ways?

Recently I saw a Facebook post with a quote from Jane Fonda, who has both won awards and also been widely vilified for her choices during the Vietnam war. What she said was quite encouraging and thought-provoking:

“…it's important for human beings to fail in every aspect of life because it's the only way you learn, I think. I mean, if all you do is succeed it's hard to learn. I read somewhere God doesn't come into us through awards and ceremony. God comes into us through our scars and wounds. Knowledge, wisdom, growth, come into us when we have failed, when we have had setbacks. My greatest epiphanies and growth have come at the bottom of a nervous breakdown when I was suffering so much that I didn't think it was humanly possible You think you're broken, but you're really broken open.”

Since I wasn't finding regular work for needed income, I took a seasonal position for the month with UPS as a driver's helper. I had an amazing December! I sat in the “jump seat” in the truck (passenger seat). When we stopped at an address, I would undo my seat belt and jump out of the truck. He would scan all the packages to be delivered there, then hand them to me and I'd go quickly to the door, put the packages on the doorstep, and ring the bell or knock, returning to the truck before anyone made it to the door many times. And off we'd go to the next stop. On the busiest day we made 300 stops, and many of them got multiple packages.

I do ache in places I'm not used to aching in, but I enjoyed it. It was physically demanding. Like the day we had to deliver a compressed foam bed to an upstairs apartment. “How are we going to get it up there?” I asked him. “We have to leave it at their front door, so we're going to roll it end over end up the stairs,” he told me. And we did.

My driver was a new dad with a two-month-old daughter and a wife he adores. What I experienced from him was kindness, patience, generosity and goodness. He reminded me a lot of my own son. The experience helped me recognize how valuable every job is, and how honorable people offer their labor–whatever it may be–to make life easier for the rest. That is their “ministry” of service.

As we begin 2018, what would you like to choose to bring into being during the next 12 months? How will you contribute more good to the world? Most people make resolutions they forget within a few weeks. So rather than choosing weight loss, exercise, better eating, and making lots of money, what really matters that you might want to bring forward into the world? Extending kindness, forgiveness, compassion to a specific person? Adopting a pet from a shelter? Clearing out piles of papers, clothes, and old stuff you never use.

The key to bringing about any specific result is beginning now, and beginning small. Do the first small thing that moves you in the direction you want to go. Do another small thing the very next day, and when you finish the step for that day, STOP. (When you overwork yourself with some goal, it's easy to abandon it as too hard.)

The world needs the gentle, persistent good you can bring it by taking a very small step every day. Just one, easily doable thing. You can do that, right? Me, too.

So, Happy New Year, my darlings. I hope to see you in 2018 at some event. And over the course of this new year, let's make the world a better place for those around us in small, consistent ways. It will make the end of 2018 a fulfilling, meaningful year for us all.