Happy New Year

Today I have GREAT news! It is a new year, all our attention is focused upon a future of possibility. We have another opportunity for a fresh start! All the mistakes we have made in the past are passed…the proverbial “water under the bridge.” Turing the calendar allows us to celebrate the triumphs of the outgoing year and physically tear up a symbol of whatever was negative in the year gone by. The days ahead are a blank slate!

Yes, I know that the news coming from Chicago and around the world is not very positive. Gun violence, man’s inhumanity, and the petty actions of our government leaders are still very real. However, a very wise college professor once made this observation, “Commercial news by its very nature must be sensational. The things you read in the newspaper or watch on TV must always have a hook that makes the story stand out. If newspapers ever become full of stories of daily kindness, compassion, generosity, and understanding, the world will be in serious trouble. If violence and brutality ever become the norm, those happenings will no longer deserve commercial space. They will no longer be news!”

That observation has brought me much hope in the times when I begin to feel helpless against the tide of darkness. It is at those times that I look to my neighborhood and neighborhoods around the globe. I look for all the unsung acts of kindness and courage that happen each day without much fanfare. I look at those teachers who go to work daily, diligently studying the needs of their students and searching for ways to make difficult concepts more understandable. I think about the nurses and doctors balancing the concerns of their personal lives with the joys, sorrows, and concerns of patients and their families. I rejoice in the members of my faith family who are always willing to lend a hand when someone needs food, clothing, comfort, shelter, and a ride to the store or doctor. I marvel at those who are caring for loved ones suffering the hardships of declining health or facing the challenges of Alzheimer’s, dementia, or approaching death. I admire the men and women who work one, two, and even three jobs trying to provide for their families. I appreciate all the moms and dads doing their best to raise healthy, happy and responsible children while balancing work and family life. I respect the men and women who lay their lives on the line everyday in the military, fire and police services and their families who continually pray for a safe return at the end of every day. I remember the many people facing serious illness, who endure uncomfortable tests and painful treatments with little complaint. I respect those who honestly pursue ways to overcome addictions, mental illness, and homelessness.

This new year I am struck by the fact that the vast majority of life is just ordinary people, doing ordinary things with extraordinary courage and humility. The thousands of good people I have met in my lifetime, face each day with no media attention. Whenever I have said, “I really admire your courage, perseverance, patience or generosity,” my comment is usually met with a humble and selfless reply which reminds me of the old song, “we did it all for the glory of love.”

Oh, sure we all have our days of complaint when life’s challenges and changes weigh heavy on our shoulders! Those are the times we truly appreciate the ear of a friend, loved one, counselor or confessor who understands our frustration, and points us toward renewed hope.

This new year I stand in awe of the resilience of the human spirit and sing the praises of all those ordinary people who continually find a way to step back, take a deep breath, and face each new day with fresh determination and perseverance, especially those who do it all with a smile and real interior joy! You are my heroes!

I wish each and every one of you blessings, strength, joy, and love in 2017!!


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