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A Year End Review is Good for the Soul

In less than a month’s time, we will be in a new year – just when I finally perfected writing 2010 on my correspondence and checks.   Now that thanksgiving is past, and the weather is colder, and all the leaves have dropped, we join the rest of creation in s-l-o-w-i-n-g

d-o-w-n, in catching our breath and in waiting patiently for the warmth and light of a new season.  This “graced” time also provides us the opportunity to review the year past.   Writing this column jumpstarted my own review and I discovered that I have learned some important and lifelong lessons.

Lesson no. 1.  The iffy-ness of the economy this year has forced me to rethink how I spend and what I buy.  Do I really need what I really want?  I hope that when the markets improve, I hope I won’t forget these past months.  For I now know that I can live more with less.  I have more to give to those who don’t have what I do.  I’ve also learned to dream of and ask for –ie, “to seek” – those things that last.   As the sign on a church in Crewe, VA read: “Those who are rich in love are the richest of all.”   I pray I’ll grow richer in love next year.

Lesson no. 2.   The growing local food movement has helped me to eat much better. Food on my plates or in my bowls actually has taste and texture. I’m cooking and eating fresh, seasonal vegetables that are new for me: scapes, Asian greens, collards and beets.  I’m more aware of how my food is grown and by whom.  I appreciate even more those who plow, plant, prune and pick it. I am much more grateful to God who created the sun, sends the rains and causes the seeds to grow, flower and fruit.  Next year, I plan to try giving up drive thru’s and to exercise more.

Lesson no. 3.  The recent election seasons have been filled with too much angry and caustic rhetoric, for my tastes.  Attacks were too personal and actual solutions to our problems and concerns were too few.  I noticed that this anger found its way into places that were once safe spaces:  our homes, our sanctuaries, and the work place.  Has civil discourse and dialogue become a lost art?   Because of what I’ve seen and heard, I’ve learned to swallow some of my words instead of thinking I need to speak them.  I’ve intentionally looked for occasions to build up- not tear down.

Lesson no. 4.   Though out this year, we’ve heard a great deal about the world coming to an end. In the early months, it was the end of the Mayan calendar prediction: the world will be destroyed on December 21, 2012.   But that news has been trumped in these last months by the billboards that have appeared on our highways announcing “Judgment Day:  May 21, 2011”.   As is Y2K, I fear that those who heed these messages will start fretting, fearing and selfishly preparing for that future day instead of living each day as if it were their last.   I’m trying to do just that: delighting in the beauty and wonder all around us, making sure I’m “right” with those I love and meet, and sharing my time and treasures with those in need.  If we’re living as our sacred texts call us to live and if we truly believe that God is in charge and we’re not, we need not fear the coming day – whenever that day comes.

As I noted above, writing this column prompted an early review for me.  I encourage you to take a little time soon to do the same.  You may be amazed at what you’ve learned.   And it’s good for the soul too!

Joe Lehman is the Pastor at Our Lady of Nazareth Catholic Church located at 2505 Electric Rd (Rte 419. Visit them on the web at:

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