From the Sabbatical Minister - January 1, 2020

A New Year, A New Leaf

As we head into a new year, we often talk about making resolutions and starting new habits. We look at the new calendar as our golden opportunity to make a new start – and if we miss this one, we can take advantage of other chances the calendar provides: the Chinese new year, and the first day of spring, then the first day of school, then the holidays, and suddenly we’re back to the New year and we might not have actually made that new thing a habit.
Maybe the change shouldn’t be about something that will likely be discarded by Valentine’s Day.
What if instead, on New Year’s Day, we just decided to look at things differently?
We often use the phrase ‘turning over a new leaf’ to describe doing something new. When I hear it, I think about flipping the page of a book – turning a new leaf to a blank page where we can write our new story, and we think we can be something or someone new. What we forget is that we’re still writing in the same book; it’s the same story that we’re continuing. Maybe we take it in a new direction, but it’s still the same story.
Turning over a new leaf might actually be about looking at things differently.
I also think about tree leaves – especially in the summer, when the leaves turn to face the storm that’s coming. It’s still a leaf, no matter what direction it’s facing, but now we see it differently, and we learn something from seeing this different perspective – whether it be that rain is coming or something deeper.
Imagine if we did this with other people too – learning from their stories, their experiences, their reactions. What are they teaching us from their perspective? Can we learn something about the world and ourselves when we look at it from the other side? What new story might we write?
In the coming year, I invite you to not make resolutions, or make promises to yourself that you may not be able or inclined to keep. Instead, I invite you to turn over a new leaf, listen to different perspectives, hear the stories of others – and yourself – in different ways. When we do this, we connect with more compassion, grace, and inclusiveness.
Let this be our year to turn over a new leaf.

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