“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” said Laozi. And a new year, he might have quipped, begins with a single day. Yes, 2018 is here, and 2017 – which paradoxically moved at the speed of light while grinding away with all the breakneck pace of a retreating glacier, is in the history books. It was a historical year in many ways. Tensions with North Korea entered a new stage of escalation. Our country’s politics descended into a level of partisanship and poison that few can remember. The words “subpoena, Russia,” and “Special Counsel” became a part of our regular vocabulary, as well as places like Charlottesville, Mar-a-Lago, and Sutherland Springs.
It was a year of taking a knee and making a stand; of mass shootings and mass protests; the year of the Great American Eclipse, and the, quote, “greatest attendance at a Presidential inauguration in history! Period.” Of course, 2017 was also the year of “fake news” and the generous use of “alternative facts.” California burned. Houston drowned. Puerto Rico mourned. Key West rebuilt. The “Me Too” movement began to change the cultural landscape; an extraordinary American woman entered British royalty; and the magnificent Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
So, what is to come in 2018? More of the same, I am sure. As the Psalmist asked, “Why do the nations rage?” with Jesus answering, “There is turmoil among nations; they are perplexed like the roaring of the sea and waves.” Chaos will continue. It’s the way of the world, and we are ill-equipped to take in a year’s worth of pandemonium at one sitting. We must live one day at a time.
That is, in fact, a line from a gospel song I grew up with (written by Marijohn Wilkin and Kris Kristofferson), and sang in the churches of my youth: “One day at a time, sweet Jesus. That’s all I’m asking from you. Just give me the strength to do everyday, what I have to do. Yesterday’s gone, sweet Jesus, and tomorrow may never be mine. Lord, help me today, show me the way: One day at a time.”
No, I don’t know what the coming year holds. No one does. But I do know how to survive the turmoil and anxiety, and how to wring out every drop of joy and contentment along the way. Take it one step at a time. Take life one day at a time. You can’t “worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself,” Jesus said, “For you have enough to worry about today.”
Here is a prayer I’ve been reading daily in this new year. As this journey begins, I offer it for myself, you, and those we love: “O God, whose glory fills creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve we who travel day by day; surround us with your loving care; protect us from danger; and bring us in safety to our journey’s end.” AMEN.
(Photo by Uroš Jovičić )