Each New Year we decide to make resolutions. Such commitments are supposed to serve as guideposts or directional indicators to keep us on course throughout the upcoming twelve months. Usually, by the end of February, many of our resolutions have been discarded or, at best, adhered to only intermittently. This year, there will be no resolutions: no listing of goals or grandiose statements of intentions. Instead, the list of resolutions will be replaced by a single promise. The promise is made by me—to me. Keeping this promise will not require special equipment, structured schedules, carefully selected items, or expensive accessories. The promise has nothing to do with reducing unwanted body fat, breaking of bad habits, or arduous exercise workouts. Rendering this promise involves no financial expenditure. The promise will not improve the body but will most certainly improve the spirit. There are no limitations as to the number of times this promise is fulfilled, or upon the number of individuals it is bestowed. There are no pronouncements, support groups, or public accounting as to effectiveness. The benefits of this New Year’s Promise may never be known; and yet, may be so obvious that everyone is awestruck by the results. Here is my New Year’s Promise: “Whenever I encounter something that makes me think of people I know and love, I will pray for them.” This promise “trigger” may be a certain song, an image, a thought, or a memory of one who has touched my life--living or deceased. It may be a gift once received, a photograph, a card or a letter; an email, or their voice on the phone: whatever the source, whatever the circumstance, my promise is to take a few brief moments and offer a prayer for God’s blessing on their behalf. We value so many things in life; we sometimes forget those who helped us along the way. How many times do we wistfully recall moments to remember shared with family, classmates, co-workers, colleagues and friends? In an instant we can offer prayerful thanks for their kindnesses, thoughtfulness, and caring manner. Many who helped us have moved away and their doorsteps are separated from ours by many miles. Without interrupting their lives we can say a prayer for whatever intention we attached to our personal intercession. Within the privacy of our heart, workplace, home or car we can nourish the spirit and strengthen the soul of those we hold most dear. As we go about our daily routine, without any outward sign we can convey prayerful words of comfort, solace, peace and love. Or, we can send individual personal thoughts directly to that person’s heart. New Year’s is always a time to celebrate the newest allotment of days: party up a storm, wear funny hats, activate noisemakers, dance amid confetti, streamers and colorful balloons while displaying behaviors influenced by drinks and concoctions which accelerate frivolity and good times. As the New Year begins, and voices sing the familiar words to Auld Lang Syne, we can keep our New Year promise. How many people throughout your lifetime have shared treasured moments with you that deserve a few seconds of remembrance? Of prayerful gratitude and appreciation?
Should you choose to compile a conventional list of resolutions find room for the promise. By this time next year, along with desired weight loss, cessation of harmful habits, and toned anatomy, you will have conveyed prayerful intercession to those you cherish and love. If Heaven is kind, those who cherish you in their life will in turn, prayerfully remember you. That’s the promise for the New Year.
Each time the subject of “promise” comes up I always remember the closing lines from what has become my favorite poem by Robert Frost: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. He closes with these words: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep; and miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.”
Like the traveler in Frost’s poem, each of us has promises to keep; and miles to go before we sleep. Welcome, 2010! Happy New Year, everyone!