In This New Year, Find Meaning In Your Experiences.
TS Elliott once suggested that we often have the experience, but miss the meaning. And to find meaning we have to ask what was that all about? Or what was I suppose to get from this? It can happen after seeing a film, and we leave confused. Or when we finish our latest novel, we might ask: What was it all about?
No doubt we have successfully “de-Christmastized” our homes by now? The tree and wreaths are gone, the lights and ornaments packed away, and the Nativity scene wrapped safely in its hiding place. With all this, I hope we keep before us ”the meaning” of this grand and glorious feast.
To make certain we see and understand the meaning of this event, use the precious vision of “hindsight” to understand what just happened and how it touches our lives as we move ever so rapidly into another new year.
Hindsight gives better clarity because it makes us see an event in the light of our present circumstances. For instance, Sue lost her husband just before the holidays began. She wondered how she would get through these days with everyone around her “into the Christmas spirit”. But she did. What dawned on her was that Jake‘s death showed her even more deeply what this feast was about.
Sue realized that God sent this child, Jesus, to this earth to help everyone, including her and Jake to get to heaven. Jesus, the adult, gave his life for that purpose. Now Jake benefitted from this and received the gift of eternal life. A gift Sue would one day receive herself.
While she mourned her loss, she was overcome with the thought of Jake’s new found happiness which would one day be hers. Through her tears, Sue got the meaning and understood the love God has for her, Jake and all of us.
And it is the love that Jake now shares. This Christmas Sue felt through her loss, the joy of what this Christ child eventually did for her and Jake. From the depths of her heart, Sue could say “Merry Christmas” and mean it as she thought of Jake’s reward.
In the Jewish tradition, the Talmud encourages believers after important experiences or feast days to ask, “What does it mean?” In this way, the present experience doesn’t get swallowed in the next experience before we have a chance to grasp its full message. This may not heal us completely, but it will focus our vision to see where God’s hand and heart are in this situation.
Perhaps in this new year, we can make this our resolution. When our world seems to collapse because of some event before we sink into the question “why is this happening to me?” We can ask “What does this mean?” And like Sue from her darkness, see the light of its meaning. And be bathed anew in it!