The Work of a New Year

(a view of the lovely Claremont hills in southern California, on the last day of 2011)

The Business God Has Given Us

The author of Ecclesiastes writes:

I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

And isn’t this how it is at the start of a new year? We are caught up in wondering what business God has given us.

And yet, the mystery of time still pervades, beyond human comprehension or control. We understand that time is passing, but we cannot fully know the mind of God.

We just have to keep doing our best, day to day, with the business we’ve been given to do.

Endless and Proper Work

I think of the beautiful words of Mary Oliver in her poem Yes! No!”:

To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.

I wonder, isn’t this enough — to pay attention? Isn’t this the whole of the work to which we are called?

The waking in the morning, the moving through the day, the closing our minds and eyes at night — all these are summed up in this focus of attention on what matters.

And what matters is what brings us joy, what makes us more fully alive.

Nothing Better

Ecclesiastes goes on:

I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.

It’s there, the call to dig deeper into joy, to pay attention to what is life-giving.

And God has declared it, as he declared that first light of creation, good. It is more than good: there is nothing better than this work of being alive.

There are seasons for all these times of up and down, but it is always good to be living joyfully in each moment.

So here’s to a year of living like sheep: following faithfully the shepherd’s voice, drinking deep from the wells of life, and surrendering to the pleasure of rich pastures.



Filed under Lectionary Reflections, Spirituality, Theology and Faith

2 responses to “The Work of a New Year

  1. Paying attention – that IS work sometimes, but as you’ve said, maybe that’s really our only work. If we do it well – paying attention to Jesus, to others, to the work of our hands – maybe everything else just falls into place?

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