Endings and beginnings. Our calendar end and beginning of the year may be an artificial construct and not universal, but for me it still signifies something wondrous. A time to reflect on and release the year ending, and a time to anticipate the fresh start of a new year.
Most years, I spend the final days of the year at my forest cabin in the mountains, listening to the creek, enjoying a crackling fire, perhaps graced with quiet snow. Without phone or internet there, it gives me a chance to spend time in contemplation without distraction.
On New Year’s Eve, I sit in front of the fire with paper and pen. I write a letter to the year ending. I note memorable happenings, and reflect on lessons offered and perhaps learned. I consider what things I would like to leave behind and ask the year to take these things with it as it departs. For example, last year I asked to be relieved of guilt and judgment. And most of all, I thank the year for its blessings which of course include everything, every day, every breath.
Then I write a second letter to the new year, welcoming it with warm hospitality and acceptance of whatever it brings. I don’t make resolutions or set goals. I used to receive a word of the year, but I haven’t done that in a long time. (My last word of the year was “wait,” so I guess I still am.) I do ask for gifts, like patience, forgiveness, wisdom, compassion. And while there might be things I look forward to, I try not to burden the new year with expectations. Mostly, I just want the new year to know that I’m happy to meet it.
After a time of quiet with both letters, I offer them to the fire, releasing the ending year from my life with gratitude and sending my prayers for the new year in the sacred smoke.
It’s a ritual that brings me peace, with a dash of amazement that another year has passed, and a pinch of excitement that a new year is about to begin.
What about you? How do you end the year and begin the new one? Do you have any family or friend traditions, or personal rituals? (A glass of champagne at midnight definitely counts!)
Wishing everyone the very best for 2023!