Window Display for the Bristol, Tennessee Ballet's "The Nutcracker."
Photo Credit: Lynda Ward / Visual-Stories.com
I must admit that I've never thought of New Year's Day as a Christian holiday. But for many folks around the world, New Year's is indeed Christian. So for many Orthodox Jewish people, the decision to celebrate New Year's is controversial: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/12/30/party-loving-israel-has-fraught-relationship-with-christian-new-year-eve/
I never thought of New Year's as Christian, and yet when I was a kid, I used to go with my dad to a New Year's Eve "Watch Service" at our church. The service was from 11:30 pm - 12:30 am every New Year's Eve. We only went a handful of times, but it quickly became my favorite service. Unlike a regular church service, the time was spent looking back over the year, taking stock of the past and preparing for the year ahead. There was time for silent reflection and prayer as well as a beautiful candle light portion of the service that welcomed the new year.
I'm not sure if any churches still have Watch Night services, which I think originated with the United Methodist Church. But it is good to prayerfully and thoughtfully look back over the year. This past year has been very difficult for me---actually one of the most difficult years in recent history. My mom had to have back surgery then, a couple weeks after the operation, she became critically ill with an infection which kept her in the hospital for several weeks. One of my friends became suddenly ill and died very quickly after her diagnosis. My beloved cat of 17 years also grew gravely ill and died. And all the while one of my dearest friends spent something like five months or more sending cruel, harassing messages everyday---sometimes more than once a day---simply because I said that "Nelson Mandela embodied some of his Christian faith in his campaign for justice in South Africa." (Turns out that Nelson Mandela was very much influenced by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Methodist Missionaries, I've only recently learned). My comment about Mandela offended my friend and initiated his rage. Jez only stopped sending the harassing messages when I called and made a report with the police. And I'm still struggling with the decision of whether or not to sign a warrant for his arrest (in the state where I live it's a two step process, first you make the report and then you sign the warrant). I'm still struggling to figure out what exactly happened and why my friend did what he did.
But the year wasn't without merit. One of my photographs was published on the cover of a magazine: Kakalak Magazine: http://enchanted4est.livejournal.com/58308.html
... My interview with photographer Bryce Lankard (who is now my truly wonderful photography mentor) was featured in a magazine: http://enchanted4est.livejournal.com/57245.html
... one of my poems "To Jeremy" and one of my plays "I Need to Borrow Your Car" have been selected to be performed (the poem for a spoken word poetry event and the play for a one-act play event), and I will post more about the poem and the play later.
So taking stock and looking ahead. Looking back over 2013 with regret and with gratitude. Looking ahead to 2014 with hope.
Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014 :-)