I’ve written before about how I’m not much of a fan or believer in New Year, well except for the change in date which is about the only part I do believe in. I’ve also never thought January is a very good time to start resolutions, especially as for most of us it is mid-winter and we’re just trying to get through each day.
I’ve had a busy old week and worked pretty much all day, every day from Christmas. Even right through Christmas Day, birthday and New Year either writing or giving guided tours. Of course this means that when everyone goes back to work on Monday morning, I can put my feet up… I wish!
I may actually have a tour to Walsingham on Monday, one of my favourite day trips which for almost 1,000 years has been a point of pilgrimage. As well as the shrines, the churches, beautiful countryside and villages there is a quaint old book shop which every month has a book which is recommended by the Bishop who resides next door. On my last tour there the recommendation was “The Jesuits Guide To (Almost) Everything : A Spirituality For Real Life”. I bought the book and devoured it over a sunny weekend in the back garden. It’s a great read and I heartily recommend it.
This morning when I was ostensibly freshening up my Ye Olde England Tours website and preparing for that possible tour on Monday, I came across some resolutions as suggested by Revered James Martin, SJ. I liked them and though always try to live with them in any case, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded by someone who lives them better than I do. So forget the diet or giving up drinking or exercising more, these are resolutions we all can and should keep for 2016.
1.) Be Kind. That means…
2.) Always give everyone the benefit of the doubt. After all, why not? Everyone is carrying around some sort of burden. Usually one that you don’t even know about. So give them a break. Even if they’re being unreasonable….
3.) Especially when you’re talking about them with someone else. Honour the absent, as the saying goes. Spiritually speaking, it’s essential. It’s part of charity. Practically speaking, it makes sense too. Why? First, because you’ll feel crummy about yourself afterwards. Second, because the person you’re complaining to will probably see you as negative. Finally, it will inevitably get back to them. More to the point, it’s mean.
4.) Don’t be a jerk. There is simply no need to be. At all. Zero. Just because you’re having a rotten day doesn’t mean you have to pass it along your misery to someone else. It’s important to share your struggles with friends. Essential. But being in a bad mood is no excuse to be a jerk. If you feel your moving into that territory, ask yourself a simple question, “Am I being a jerk?” If you’re somehow unable to discern that, the look on other people’s faces will tell you.
5.) Give a call, pay a visit, or send a note to someone who is sick, lonely, struggling. It will cost you nothing, but will mean everything to them. Think of how you feel when someone reaches out.
6.) Release yourself from that grudge. In other words, forgive. It’s ridiculous to hold onto things for so long. It eats away at you like a cancer, and it poisons the other person’s life. It also, most likely, serves to turn them against you even more. You think you are justified in being mad? You probably are. People can be jerks. But there are probably people justified in holding a grudge against you, too. So just let it go.
7.) Stop being so sarcastic. A little of that goes too far. You may think you’re being Oscar Wilde, but you’re often just being mean. Sarcasm can be an effective antidote to pomposity, but sometimes it’s just cruel.
8.) Listen patiently to someone who is long-winded, or boring, or, especially. complaining. They’re usually insecure, lonely or in pain. Your listening is a gift to them. It may mean that you’re the only person they have to talk to. Yes, it’s hard. But God sees what you’re doing. And, after all, people have to listen to you.
9.) Help someone who is really needy. A homeless person. A poor person. A refugee. A sick person. A grieving person. It’s not hard to figure out how to do it. And if you don’t know anyone like that, write a check. That’s not so hard either. Helping doesn’t require an advanced degree.
10.) Be kind. Did I mention that? It bears repeating, because if you are kind, then you’ll make a lot of people happy in the New Year. Yourself too. And God.