by Robert Flynn
I’m walking along a dry riverbed in California and it’s a beautiful day. The future stretches out ahead, in the valley, hills and mountains that surround me. The past is there too, but today I prefer to walk forward: to live “in the now”, and truly see all the good things in the world. The air is warm and dry. Fleecy clouds float high in the bright blue sky, and the sunlight glitters and shines off the houses and cars in the distance. People walk and ride bicycles on the bike path that follows the river. They talk and point, and laugh together, as they enjoy the day off from work. What a beautiful and peaceful scene it makes!
My heart is suddenly full of joy as I remember that it is New Year’s Day. A day to start afresh and to I feel overwhelming gratitude for the gift of life that God has given me. I pass by a man and his son, a toddler sitting on the “lofty” wooden fence by the path, but held safely in his father’s arms. His face is a study in pure joy and wonder, as he looks out over the miles of sandy wash, green hills, and towering mountains of his brand new world. It is the beginning of a beginning, and tears gather in my eyes with the power and sweetness of this simple thought. A man sits on a rock and gazes into the distance. He looks sad and forlorn, as the breeze blows by and makes the leaves flutter on the tree next to him, in this lonely scene. I am reminded of other days in the past when sadness and hopelessness were my only companions. I say a silent prayer for him, and profound thanks, to God, for me. Then I walk on.
A young couple crouch next to a “bicycle built for two” that has thrown it’s chain. As they look up, I grin and say “Happy New Year. Dammit”! They grin and laugh, and wish me the same. It is a simple thing, but for a moment we have become one with the world and a sudden joyful exhilaration takes my breath away. An old woman leans on a fence post, looking into some other time. She doesn’t seem either happy or sad, just gazes into the past, or maybe the future. I wonder what her ageing, but still lovely eyes have seen, in the time that she has spent in this world. Where has she been? What amazing things has she witnessed? A lifetime lays hidden behind her eyes. A feeling of timeless peace flows through me and all fear of what the future may bring drains away. I thank her with my thoughts, and move on.
I am almost home. I walk by a stand of young trees swaying in the wind. A loud burst of cheerful chirping and tweeting erupts from the little grove, and I can’t help but laugh out loud, at the “bird party” going on next to me. As I reach home, go inside, and close the door, I say another thanks to God for the gift of “now”. It has taken a long time to find it, and although I can’t seem to keep it with me, all of the time, I know how to open the door again, when the time is right. I know that whatever the new year will bring, there will be joy, and enough treasures of “now” to help me through the hard times that we all must face.
Happy New Year!