There is something which seems utterly final about the end of a year. It means that we are one year older; this is a fact definite and inexorable. We are twelve months closer to the end of our physical time span—one year closer to death. It means that in some important ways we are taken farther from, or brought closer to, the goal of our living, whatever that goal may be. It means that some crucial questions which were unanswered twelve months ago have been finally and decidedly answered, and whatever doubts there may have been about the result are completely removed; now, we know. It means that we in fuller or lesser possession of ourselves and our powers than ever before.
During the passing of twelve months, experiences have come into our lives which revealed certain things about ourselves which we have not suspected. Some new demand was made upon us which caused us to behave in a manner that was strange to our established pattern of life, and we felt shocked, surprised, enraged or delighted that such was possible for us. We met someone with whom we built the kind of relationship which opened up to us new worlds of wonder and magic, which were completely closed to us a year ago. It means that we are wiser by far than we were at year’s beginning. The circling series of events upon whose bosom we have been wafted cut away our pretensions, stripping us bare of much beneath which we have hidden even from ourselves; when we saw ourselves revealed, there was born a wisdom about life and its meaning that makes us say with all our hearts, this day, that life is good, not evil.
It means that we have been able to watch, as if bewitched, while the illumined finger of God pointed out a path through the surrounding darkness where no path lay; exposed to our surprised gaze a door where we were sure there was only a blank wall; revealed the strong arms and assuring voices of friends when we were sure that in our plight we were alone, utterly and starkly alone. All of these meanings and many more counsel us that because life is dynamic and we are deeply alive, the end of the year can mean only the end of the year, not the end of life, not the end of us, not even the end of time. We turn our faces toward the year being born with a riding hope that will carry us into the days ahead with courage and with confidence. The old year dies; the new year is being born—Long Live Life!
From Meditations of the Heart by Howard Thurman