Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reflections on a Happy New Year

Happy New Year is the sentiment and good wishes we hear at the beginning of each and every new year.

Let's take a brief moment to focus on each of these three individual words.

Happy - What does that really mean? It can mean different things to different people. We all seek it, but in different ways. We all want to be happy and so many of us search for things that we think will satisfy this need. Some believe it is wealth, others pursue pleasure, and there are those who seek power, then some just want to be honored and adored. Any and all of these things are sought after in the belief that it will bring happiness into their lives. Yet we all know that if we do attain any of this, it can be temporary and fleeting. Ask any wealthy person who's lost everything, ask those who are addicted to porn or "free love and sex" how satisfied and happy they are after their initial highs. Ask all those kings and dictators who have fallen from power over the centuries, and ask the actors in Hollywood how quickly they can lose their notoriety and celebrity status. Beauty is fleeting. Fame is fickle.

So should we invest our lives in all of these things that are perishable? Our Creator has told us the irony is that when we "die unto oneself", by losing our pride and self-centeredness and increase our love and compassion for others .... that is where we can find true joy and happiness. People, and most importantly Our Lord, will remember your kindness to others forever. "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto Me." These good works are not perishable or fleeting, and they will bring you immense satisfaction and rewards in the here and now, and in the afterlife. The Lord loves a cheerful giver. This is the only true and lasting state of happiness.

New - New, as opposed to old, is a concept to reflect on. In the context of the new year, it can mean a fresh start. The beginning of a new phase in our lives. Many of you have heard the saying, the only thing constant in life is change. Think about how we started out as a tiny, microscopic fertilized egg, then transitioned into an infant, then continued to grow as a child, a teenager, and then a young adult. We continually were evolving into a new phase. We then have taken a variety of different paths that could have included becoming a college student, or started a career in a trade, possibly got married, started a family and began raising your own children.

Each new phase of your life is unique in it's own way. We learn to adapt and cope, because many of these new transitions bring difficult challenges to us. Then we get older and reach mid-life and start to reflect back on our lives, and many ask ourselves "What's it all about?".... life, that is. We tried to do our best, yet those difficulties arose. People moved in and out of our lives. Relationships changed. Medical issues had to be dealt with. Meeting basic needs might have gotten harder and harder. Yet the human spirit tries somehow to conjure up the strength to persevere and meet all of these trials and tribulations head on. We derive this strength from the hope that these things too will change over time .... and hopefully improve. Tomorrow brings the hope of a new and better day. This hope and strength comes from the grace of God. And after it's all said and done in this life, we have the promise of a new, and much more different one that awaits us. He has prepared a place for us.

Year - This is obviously a measurement of earthly time. The older we get, the more we start to focus on our own mortality. The earth we occupy now is also another temporary thing in our lives. We are not just human beings .... we are cosmic beings, with a soul that lasts forever. I know this, not just from my own faith's teachings, but I also read this from a God-doubting neurosurgeon who had a near death experience of his own while in a coma, and he received what he called a foretaste of the afterlife. He said it was all so real. Earthly time obviously did not apply. Language did not matter. He thought of a question and then he immediately became aware of the answer. Can you say telepathic? He also immediately understood the answer. This knowledge he acquired wasn't like the sometimes arduous learning process that our human brains experience here on earth.

He travelled through what he called a Gateway, and then eventually to the Core, which he said was Divine in nature. He was unable to describe in human words the immenseness, and the love and warmth that eminated from this Core. After this experience, he no longer is one who doubts the existence of God.

He also had an angelic escort with him during this experience. I'd like to think it was his guardian angel, that we're told is present with us in the here and now also. Angels are God's messengers. God is always trying to reach out to us in different ways. We just have to open up our hearts and be receptive to His subtle and gentle ways of communicating with us, whether it's through thoughts that pop into our heads, or experiences with people or things that could be called coincidences .... yet we wonder if they are. He is One who is always prodding us to do what is right .... and you could also say, giving us the desire to want to make Him proud! I hope at the end of my earthly life, I will hear "Job well done, good and faithful servant!"

So, I pray that you will be open to seek the true happiness in this earthly new year. It is there for all of us to find and receive.

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