Past and Future Whispers

 In Grief


promo-calendarTowards the end of December, humanity turns up the volume and whispers can be hard to detect.  It becomes a challenge to tune in the frequency of our inner voice. Households fill up with out-of-town relatives competing to summarize a year’s events in one loud conversation fueled by adult beverages. Shopping malls are crazy with after-Christmas sales and  gift returns. Tempers can flare when the lines get too long and the staff is short-handed. Airports and train stations bustle with holiday travelers and weather delays trigger inappropriate language.

Meanwhile, a  New Year lurks right around the corner.

A statue representing Janus Bifrons in the Vatican Museums

A statue representing Janus Bifrons in the Vatican Museums

Our current celebration of the New Year on January 1 took centuries of adjustments as the mysteries of nature became better understood. No longer did the annual flooding of the Nile along with the rising of the star Sirius in Egypt mark the first day of the year. The ancient Roman calendar, which consisted of 10 months and 304 days, eventually fell out of synch with the sun. So after consulting with prominent astronomers and mathematicians, Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar. This update led to our Western Calendar, also known as the Gregorian calendar, and established our modern day observation of January 1 as the first day of the year.

It is conventionally thought that the month’s namesake is Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. I think Janus was the ideal symbol. He is portrayed with two faces—one to look back in the past and one to look forward to the future. New Year’s Eve bridges these two time zones.

Traditionally on New Year’s Eve, we hear the familiar melody of Auld Lang Syne at the stroke of midnight. The Scottish lyrics prompt us to reflect upon love and friendship in times past.

            Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

            And never brought to mind?

            Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

              And auld lang syne!happy-new-year-wallpaper

                                                        (chorus) For auld lang syne, my dear,

                                                        For auld lang syne.

                                                         We’ll take a cup o’kindness yet,

                                                         For auld lang syne.

It is only natural to turn our attention backwards to catch a glimpse. Just like the Ghost of Christmas Past, the images behind us are powerful. Their force pulls on our hearts. We long to be with our loved ones who have finished their life journeys before us. The path we traveled together is still warm.

And right after midnight, we welcome in the New Year. We turn our faces to the unknown, the future, with hope in our hearts. We don’t know what the New Year has in store for us.

It is customary to throw in a few rituals to promote good luck. When I lived in Spain I delighted in quickly gobbling down one grape for each stroke of midnight with friends on December 31st . The 12 pieces of fruit represented an upcoming dozen months of good fortune. My German born mother-in-law always made a traditional meal of fresh pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. She also insisted that we have a hearty serving of lentils for a successful New Year. We gathered around her dining room table and annually repeated the ritual while we shared humorous stories of the past. The true wealth was in our hearts, not in our bank accounts.

Another tradition is the New Year’s Resolution. It has been around since the ancient Babylonians. They made promises to the gods in hopes to start off the New Year right. Today, we proclaim our intentions, either in public or privately, and vow to change our ways in the upcoming year.

 Max at age three

Max at age three

When my grandson Max was 3 ½ years old he wanted to get in on the tradition and came up with his own resolution. I will have to ask him this year if he wants to update it now that he is older.

Past and future whispers.

The shadow behind us reminds us who we were. The light of the hope in front of us prompts us to move forward with purpose.

My hope for you in the New Year is that you will continue to be able to tune into your whispers and to trust them. May they come through loud and clear.

Here are some Holiday Tips to help you:

Focus on what you can positively influence in your own future.

Seek to understand the past.

Don’t overreach. Be practical. Don’t reinvent yourself.

Recognize the growth that you have achieved in the past year and celebrate your present self.

Give a big hug to those who are still with you on your life journey and tell them how much you love them.


Best wishes to all of you for a healthy 2016!




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