Essays on Faith: Welcoming the New Year and reflecting on the past

Is it really 2020?

It seems like such a short time ago that everyone was excited about the new millennium. Yes, Jan. 1, 2000, was the day we thought our lives might change forever.

The fear was that the computers we relied on would malfunction. People also feared that our luxuries would be destroyed and that we would revert back to living without electricity, heat or running water. They called this the great Y2K scare. The scare consisted of the fear that the entire computer systems were going to fail on New Year’s Eve 1999.

People saw the new millennium as the apocalypse. They feared that the end of the world was near. A family in Ohio took it to such an extreme that they bought gas-powered generators and a year’s supply of dry food because they were so convinced that the end was near. There was complete chaos occurring around the world.

But when the clocks and calendars actually changed to the year 2000, computers barely had any problems. Although there were some reports of minor problems, the majority of computers did all right. And our lives went right on as before in this new millennium that we had feared.

Life is like that.

Sometimes we fret too much about things that never happen. Though we read all the books and listen to the televangelists who tell us God is in charge and He never makes mistakes, so there’s no need to worry, we’re only human and can’t seem to help ourselves.

So go ahead. Make your resolutions. Resolve to do everything better this year. Go on a diet, get more exercise, worry less, enjoy yourself more, spend more quality time with loved ones — and stop trying to please everyone.

You can’t.

The beginning of a new year is the most nostalgic of all times. My life flashes before me, from childhood and teen years to young adulthood and the present. Memories, posing as unseen angels, both sadden and excite me: beloved parents, gone but not forgotten; a premature sibling who never had a chance to live; relatives and friends, all part of a past that’s lovely to recall, but often bittersweet.

The New Year may hold many surprises. “You just never know what’s going to happen,” said a good friend sadly, shortly before she passed away.

But my optimistic grandmother said, “You can find something good in everything that happens if you look for it.” I used to think that was wishful thinking, but as I grew older, I understood the concept. The good doesn’t exactly reach out and touch you — you must look for it.

The good that came out of a three and a half hour power outage last night was that Mr. H. and I actually had a conversation! Something we rarely do. Mr. H. is a man of few words and about the only time I get to have a real conversation with him is when I’ve got him held hostage in the car on a trip or when the power goes off. Even my cat, Liza Jane, seemed to enjoy the pause (no pun intended) and was mesmerized by the flickering candles.

We talked about many things, but what I enjoyed most was comparing our present situation to how it must have been for our ancestors getting up at the crack of dawn and going to bed at sundown. They worked hard all day and were tired enough to go to sleep as soon as it was dark. There was nothing else to do anyway without TV or computers.

Unexpected events like this one teach us to be flexible. There’s no point in whining about things you can’t control. Be like a river. Go with the flow. Eat cold sandwiches instead of your favorite dinner, enjoy the beauty of flickering candlelight and, by all means, have a conversation!

You might enjoy it.

As the year comes to a close, it is a time for reflection, a time to release old thoughts and beliefs and forgive old hurts. Whatever has happened in the past year, the New Year brings fresh beginnings. Exciting new experiences and relationships await. Let us be thankful for the blessings of the past and the promise of the future.

In this New Year, Lord...

Let my eyes see the wonder of

the stars in the Heavens

And my ears hear only

that which is good.

Teach my lips to speak gentle

words of love and understanding...

And will my heart to give until

there’s nothing left to give.

Infect me with happiness so contagious

that everyone who comes near will

fall victim to it.

And let perfect love spread throughout the

land so there’ll never again be discord...

Or hate.

Or revenge.

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Funerals for Monday, January 27, 2020

Davis, Valerie - 11 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Hamrick, Leonard - 1 p.m., Waters Funeral Chapel, Summersville.

Hughes Jr., Denver - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Keen, Cora - 2 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.

Lazear, Elizabeth - 7 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Masters, Delores - 1 p.m., Glen Ferris Apostolic Church, Glen Ferris.

Milroy, Miller - 11 a.m., Simons-Coleman Funeral Home, Richwood.

Petro, Edith - 11 a.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Phelps, Herbert - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Stanley, Gary - 1 p.m., Pryor Funeral Home, East Bank.

Stewart, Donna - 1 p.m., First United Methodist Church, South Charleston.

Walker, Iva - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Wilkinson, Catharine - Noon, Raynes Funeral Home, Eleanor Chapel.

Williams, Joseph - 3 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.