“Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote those words in 1850. It is an appropriate chorus at this time of year. Happy New Year! The words ring out- everyone offers that greeting. The wish, of course, is for happiness and well being.
We went to see the Movie rendering of the great book – “The Tale of Despereaux.” It was a great movie. Very fitting I think for the New Year. Fitting because it is the story of a mouse who chooses not to be like other mice. Despereaux is more than a mouse. He is a ‘gentleman.’ He is given many warnings in the story that he should learn to be afraid and to ‘cower.’ When he is not being appropriately afraid, and continues to seek adventure and continues to push the boundaries he is told “…an interesting fate awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform." Now we know this to be very true. The world always wants conformity from us. This is a tale of two characters in particular who choose non-conformity. The other non-conformist is Roscuro, a rat in the movie who is hapless in curious and causes some turmoil. He because of the path of his life finds himself broken hearted and wanting forgiveness for his mistakes. In his search or forgiveness he becomes bitter. The Narrator reminds us that "There are those hearts that never mend again once they are broken. Or if they do mend, they heal themselves in a crooked and lopsided way, as if sewn together by a careless craftsman." In the end he finds his peace in forgiveness after his heart is again softened.
There is an important lesson in this movie – many actually. But for me there was a very strong word about ‘hardness of heart.’ There are times that our hearts are broken. Perhaps they are broken because of a failed relationship. Perhaps we have failed to achieve our goals. We get heartbroken when we do not live up to our own expectations and have a hard time forgiving ourselves. Sometimes life is just plain difficult and we suffer loss, grief or pain. The message of Despereaux is cautionary. It cautions us against conforming our actions and our responses to the challenges of our lives to the expectations of others. But more so for me it was a reminder to not let broken hearts heal in ‘a lopsided way.’ Looking back at the year past, many of us can say that our hearts ache because of what life has been. Looking ahead to 2009 we have work towards healing those hearts. “Happily ever after” is not a realistic goal in life. Happiness will be a part of 2009 and heartache will perhaps pay a visit as well. For those of us on the Christian Journey, our challenge for any New Year is to look ahead and be assured that the Incarnation is real. God is with us! God remains besides us as we dance and as we weep. God will see us through all things. We work towards forgiveness, healing and peace.
Last night I watched Alanis Morissette interviewed by George Stroumboulopoulos on his program THE HOUR. She is one of my favourite recording artist because her music is an expression of who she is. She speaks openly about how he song writing is very cathartic for her. She has a new album out entitled “Flavours of Entanglement.” In the interview George asked her about the vulnerability of releasing a new album and the feelings she might have around that. She admitted that she is always a little scared before a release and but that ultimately she knows she has to take the risks. George then says, “You were really Happy and you were really sad for a while…” Alanis jumps in and says, “I was everything for a while, but I am everything now…I stopped aspiring to be happy a long time ago because happiness is such a temporary state.” She goes on to say that the ‘many flavours of humanity are all built on the bedrock of peace.’ On here web page there is a quote that reads, “a feeling is not bottomless, once felt all the way through, a great peace greets you there.”
So as we look ahead at 2009 I pray that we may all have the courage to know that God is with us, to rejoice in the happiness, to be embraced and held in the sadness and all the while to strive for the peace to know that life is a journey that includes much joy and sorrow. We do not need to conform to fear. Instead we seek to be who God wants us to be and know that peace which passes all understanding. You see the key to all of this is LOVE. We believe strongly that God is Love. That being said, my wish for 2009 for all of us is that we feel LOVE. Because, after all, as the Narrator says in Despereaux, “Love is Ridiculous!”