An Encouraging Word — Opening up to something new

Father J. Ronald Knott

Do not pour new wine into old wineskins. Matthew 9:17

I don’t do New Year’s parties. I used to “go along to get along,” then I lied my way out of them and now I just say “no.” As a certified introvert, I am drawn to the quiet, rather than the roar of a crowd. Pity me if you must, but I sort of like it this way.

One of the things that was foremost on my mind this New Year’s Eve was that I will soon be turning 69. On one hand, I certainly want to go forward with my eyes open and “own” the facts, but on the other, I want to “burn and rave at the close of day,” as Dylan Thomas put it in his great poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night.”

Health, of course, is the wild card. Even at that, Hubert Humphrey was right when he said, “Oh my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts. It’s what you do with what you have left.” If I can stay reasonably healthy, I intend to keep re-inventing myself as many times as I can before the curtain drops.

I have a small green pillow on my bed, something some friends of mine gave to me when I left the Cathedral of the Assumption in 1997, that reminds me how I want to proceed. It says, “The best is yet to come!”

Isaac Bashevis Singer, said the same thing from the opposite direction: “If you keep saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of becoming a prophet.” That pillow asks me every day, “Who said you only get one golden moment?”

There is a Chinese Proverb that says, “Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.”

I guess the best part of being almost 69 is the fact that I get to work with young people almost exclusively. They are always looking forward, rather than backward. They live in a fresh fountain of possibilities and ideas, not some old swamp of memories and regrets. When I dare try to keep up, they help me forget my age and keep my eyes focused on what lies ahead rather than behind.

I don’t know where God is leading me, but I do feel that 2013 is going to be a year of serious discernment. To “discern” means to “separate, distinguish between or to sift apart.”

The only thing that makes that hard to do is the fact that I love all that I am doing right now. I do know, however, that God can only give his new gifts to those empty enough to receive them. If I am to open myself up to something new and exciting, I know I am going to have to let go of something old and familiar. I don’t know what that “something” will be, but I do know that I am ready to be amazed yet again.

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