Image credit: Sidra Saeed (creative commons)
A new year. A new decade. After counting down to Big Ben chiming, watching the ball drop in Times Square and seeing Sydney Harbour erupt in fireworks, we have crossed a threshold, begun a new story, bidding the old farewell to make way for the new. What are you looking forward to?
New Lands, New Discoveries
Along with birthdays and significant holidays, researchers tell us the New Year period is a time when we reflect more intentionally on our lives and where they’re heading. They even have a name for this phenomenon—the Fresh Start Effect. On these transition days we somehow feel free to draw a line on last year’s disappointments and failures and start afresh. Gyms and diet programmes know how real this phenomenon is.
If yesterday was the shore, today we push out into new waters. What new lands we might find and discoveries make! New relationships, job opportunities and fulfilled dreams could lie ahead. A New Year offers us the prospect that life may be about to get better.
Image credit: Akira Hojo (creative commons)
For all its fresh starts and possibilities, though, a new year can be unsettling. None of us know the future or what storms it may bring (or fires, given Australia’s current crisis). Some of our New Year’s traditions reflect this. Fireworks originated in China to ward off evil spirits so a new season could be prosperous. Kissing at midnight probably came from the idea that how you started the year determined how you’d succeed in it, even in love. New Year’s resolutions date back to the Babylonians who made vows to earn the favour of the gods. The aim of each act was to secure a more positive future.
When they weren’t making vows, the ancient Babylonians were busy conquering people. When they enslaved the Jewish people in the sixth century BC, God in time sent the Jews this message: Don’t be afraid. When you go through deep waters, I’ll be with you. Fast forward a few hundred years and Jesus and his friends are sailing the Sea of Galilee when they’re caught in a violent storm. As the boat floods and the friends panic Jesus says, Why are you so afraid? before commanding the waters to calm.
Image credit: Niklas Weiss (creative commons)
We’ve pushed out from the shore into new uncharted waters. I for one am looking forward to 2020’s adventures. But with a father battling cancer and flood waters currently rising near my home, I’m not sure all that this new year will bring. And so I’m holding on to this promise:
When you go through deep waters, I’ll be with you.
Don’t be afraid.
This piece first aired on the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2