A Meditation for the New Year

  • Posted on Jan 7, 2020

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God with us.”  Matthew 1: 24

How do you get from here to there?

When I first started driving, I was a member of AAA.

And whenever I was about to go on a long distance trip, I loved to go into the AAA office and get what they called a Triptik.

A Triptik was a little booklet which you opened like a reporters or stenographers’ notebook.

AAA made the booklet for you if you called ahead and said the address you were leaving from (the HERE) and the destination you were going to (the THERE).

Each page of the Triptik had the route but also interesting places to visit along the way along with restaurants and hotels (of course AAA approved)


Each page was a map of the region and on that map the AAA agent had used a highlighter to mark your route.

It was all very comforting and kept travel anxiety away.

But every once in a great while, you turned a page of your Triptik to find a different color of highlighter which meant your route was under construction or unclear.

Always a little disconcerting.


What would you find on the way from here to there?


Now we have Mapquest and Google Maps and Waze

And we depend on our onboard navigator—in English or American accent, male or female—to tell us when to turn.

But sometimes the navigator gets behind or we run into a dead end—and the road continues on the other side of a building or vacant lot…the unexpected has happened and we don’t quite know the way anymore.


We humans like to have the exact directions when we go from HERE to THERE.


We give one another many roadmaps—-school schedules and cultural transitions such as graduations and weddings and more.


But life often happens without consulting the roadmap that we had tightly clutched in our hands.


We always took care of ourselves—ate well, stayed in shape and didn’t smoke—but we still got sick.


We always thought we’d be married to the same person all our life and then we weren’t.


I always thought I’d be a full professor at that university and then I didn’t get tenure.


I always thought I couldn’t have children but then I did.


I always thought I wouldn’t have children until I was married but then life happened.


Mary and Elizabeth thought that each of their lives had a certain course.


Elizabeth thought she would not have children in her old age.


Mary awaited motherhood as Joseph’s wife—not as a single mother.


When each learned that they were pregnant, there was no popular roadmap to guide them from here to there.


But what they had was each other.


Mary and Elizabeth made it from Here to There because they had one another.


As we come to the end of Christmastide once more, many of us have found the holiday season full of mixed emotions. 


Reminders of loss.  Joy of reconnection.  Worry about the future. 


In this New Year 2020, I hope that we each continue to be a blessing to one another—whatever we find 2020 brings.


To walk from Here to There.  To walk each other through the valleys and the mountaintops.


As Ram Dass has said, To walk each other home.


Here are two poems—one by John O’Donohue and one by Jan Richardson— to live within this season of Epiphany as we greet another year together.


Beannacht by John O’Donohue


On the day when

The weight deadens

On your shoulders

May the clay dance

To balance you.


And when your eyes

Freeze behind

The gray window

And the ghost of loss

Gets to you,

May a flock of colors,

Indigo, red, green

And azure blue,

Come to awaken in you

A meadow of delight.


When the canvas frays

In the curragh of thought

And a stain of ocean

Blackens beneath you,

May there come across the waters

A path of yellow moonlight

To bring you safely home.


May the nourishment of the earth be yours,

May the clarity of the light be yours,

May the fluency of the ocean be yours,

May the protection of the ancestors be yours.


And so may a slow

Wind work these words

Of Love around you,

An invisible cloak

To mind your life.



Blessing for the Longest Night by Jan Richardson


All throughout these months,

As the shadows

Have lengthened,

This blessing has been gathering itself,

Making ready,

Preparing for this night.


It has practiced

Walking in the dark,

Traveling with

Its eyes closed,

Feeling its way

By memory,

By touch,

By the pull of the moon

Even as it wanes.


So believe me

When I tell you

This blessing will

Reach you, even if you

Have not light enough

To read it;

It will find you,

Even though you cannot

See it coming.


You will know

The moment of its


By your release

Of the breath

You have held

So long;

A loosening

Of the clenching

In your hands,

Of the clutch

Around your heart;

A thinning

Of the darkness

That had drawn itself

Around you.


This blessing

Does not mean

To take the night away,

But it knows

Its hidden roads,

Knows the resting spots

Along the path,

Knows what it means

To travel

In the company

Of a friend.


So when

The blessing comes,

Take its hand.

Get up.

Set out on the road

You cannot see.


This is the night

When you can trust

That any direction

You go,

You will be walking

Toward the dawn.


(c)2020   The Rev. Martha N. Macgill

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