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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Day of Atonement

Tonight at midnight people around the world will commemorate the passing of one year and celebrate the beginning of another.  Large crowds will gather in public spaces, friends will come together at parties, many will spend quiet evenings at home while counting down the last few seconds of 2014 and reveling in the first moments of 2015.

Looking back on the past year, some people will see it as the best ever, filled with accomplishment and purpose. Others will see a year of disappointment and regret.  Regardless of our perspective one thing is true for all, it is past.  There is also another truth - the perspective with which we look back is probably the one through which we see the future.   That is unless we change our perspective.

The beauty of setting aside a day for reflection on the past and contemplation of the future is it gives us the opportunity to change.   Most religions have days set aside for rituals of ending and beginning, of cleansing, repentance, and atonement.   The word "repent" means changing perspective, a change of heart.  This is change that goes far deeper than the resolutions and intentions of our diaries and journals.

In its own way New Year's Eve is a global day of clensing and atonement, a day of death and resurrection, a day of darkness and enlightenment.  We stand in a threshold of time and take one last look back, however long or brief, and step into the future.  And then we do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and the..."

Every New Year's Eve I remember a bit of widsom from my late father-in-law who at some point during the day or evening of Dec. 31 would say, "If there is anything you want to do this year, you better get it done quickly."  His was a reminder of not only the fleeting nature of time, but also of the importance of acting in the moment, and making the most of each and every Day (of Atonement).

Happy New Year!

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