Step a Little Lighter

by Tom Judge

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At the end of December, as I contemplated the calendar and the flip from 2014 to 2015, I imagined myself, of all things, an Acapulco cliff diver, balancing at the edge, preparing to take the plunge. Once the calendar turned, I jumped (and I had to jump) there was no way to hit the pause button, no way to turn back. The laws of gravity took over and my task since then has been simply to make the most of the journey.

Contemplating the New Year left me bit anxious, a little excited, somewhat resigned. I can’t stop time from passing, I know. But, I can have some influence over the way it passes.

I think of myself as a unique and dazzling being – special just for being me. But, just as importantly, a part of the greater whole. A community expanding outward to encompass many individuals and communities – all just as valuable and essential as myself.

I thought now – the middle of February – would be a good time to check in on the New Year with people. What did you commit to at the start of 2015? Are you still committed? What stars have you been steering by…touchstones to ground and center you during the coming year of change and challenge? In case you’ve struggled to find these touchstones, I offer three possibilities here:

Hope – in the future, in what lies ahead. Hope that we will all learn a little this year and that we will not simply make the same old mistakes time after time. (NEW mistakes are ok!)   Hope that is born of faith in something Transcendent. A hope that the same Transcendence that placed a star over a manger and moved three wise men to follow it will be present in our lives, too. Guiding and caring for us as we make our own journeys towards unknown epiphanies.

Compassion – for both others AND ourselves. That we may be gentle and understanding when disappointments arise. For, the reality is that while hope must never be extinguished, we know our aspirations and efforts do not always unfold as we envision. So, however straight or crooked, bumpy or smooth our path is this year, let us try and remember to have compassion. To find the good in life, learn from and accept it and then move on.

Care – if we hold this value dear in 2015, it will manifest in our actions. The stranger, the person on the margins, the homeless, oppressed and disadvantaged. They are never too far from our thoughts; we move in and out of their world and they ours. We grow in understanding and acceptance of the reality that “I am my sister’s keeper. I am my brother’s keeper.” Not only will I serve them, I will purse justice. I will do so in communion with others. This purpose will be visible in my behavior throughout the year.

As January has moved into February and I have adjusted to the new number on the calendar, I have envisioned myself an ancient sojourner. Cloak to protect me from the wind, sturdy shoes and a walking stick for company. But, I am not alone. Being in relationships of love, guided by hope, compassion and care, my heart is brighter, my steps a little lighter as I continue to move forward through 2015.

Tom Judge is a Chaplain at the DePaul Loop Campus.  Feel free to share a comment below about how you’re stepping a little lighter in 2015.