Another page has fluttered gently from the calendar. That page was December and is now remembered as 2023. It is an image of the rolling year. Another image would be something like sand through the hourglass. They both work in giving some understanding of the time-space continuum. They are images of time passages which is what our lives are all about. If you asked me now, however, about what I understand to be the meaning of life I must tell you that after 75 years or so, I haven’t a clue.
Like yourself, I feel good about a new year. It is welcome and a fresh start and we will get it right this time around. There is at least that possibility, and it gives us that most precious of emotions and that emotion is hope. There is a wonderful “new car smell” to a new year. It is another chance, a do-over. In a way it reminds me of going to confession over to St. Patrick’s Church when I was a boy. You get the slate of your soul wiped clean and after saying a penance you get another chance for yourself to get it right. The penance in our church was in the form of prayers. The priest might tell you to say two decades of the Rosary or five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys. It was a small price to pay for sins of deed and thought.
In a way it is also not unlike the beginning of the school year when you had brand new exercise books to start the semester. Those books were ones not yet defiled by coffee stains and cake crumbs and ink blots. The pages were not wrinkled. They were clean and fresh and awaited us. I remember we were taught to write JMJ or AMDG on the top of the front page. JMJ means Jesus, Mary and Joseph. AMDG means to the greater honor and glory of God. In Latin it is Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. That is the way Catholic school was. Heavy stuff for those neat new exercise books with crisp white paper. They were not the old Caribou “scribblers” with the “times tables” printed on the back. It still escapes me as to why I had to memorize how much 12X7 was. Nobody asks me that question these days.
All of that notwithstanding, the bright and shiny new year is most welcome. It stretches out before us like a new paved highway. It is perfect so far. No empty beer tins or coffee cups by the side of the road and no oil stains under the front of the car.
One good thing is that I did survive 2023 and many did not. There is enough in the pantry for supper tonight and there are still a couple of Christmas beers in the fridge. That is not a bad start. I also had the privilege of having all three of my sons and their significant others at Christmas dinner table. Our first two grandchildren were a bonus. I was not perfect this year but I will do better. I get another chance now. So do you. Everybody makes mistakes.
Like you I will press on and come back in December 2024 to check the score. Be thou well this holiday season. As for 2024, good luck with it.
You can contact Jim Furlong at [email protected]