The New Year
By Bill Shepard
He came to my desk with a quivering lip; his day was done. “I’ve messed up this sheet,” he said. “Can I have a clean one?”
Having been a classroom teacher for nigh thirty years, and a minister for more than sixty years, I have seen and heard those lines, but they were spoken in different ways. And having lived more than my share of years, I have stood in the shoes of the one with the quivering lip.
“I went to the throne with a quivering soul – the old year was done – Dear Father, hast Thou a new leaf for me? I’ve spoiled this one.” He took the old leaf, stained and blotted and gave me a new one all unspotted, and then he smiled – “Do better now, my child.” (Lines from a poem by Kathryn Wheeler.”
Here we stand at the edge of a brand new year; the old one is history. What was done, said, or written – good or bad – is unchangeable. So, let it be and move on! It would be a rare person who would look back over the past twelve months and find no mistakes, regrets, and portions that he would not like to erase. Words spoken that would have been better left unsaid; unkind thoughts of others, deeds left undone that should have been carried out and many more acts done or undone that stained our sheet – not one of them can we erase. The best we can do is to make amends, seek forgiveness and move on. We have been given a starting place. A New Year lies before us, and a chance to do better. We accept the clean sheet, unspotted, with a determined resolve to do better. To be kinder, a little more thoughtful, a little more generous, and yes, a little more understanding. Our world is in need of such people! We have seen enough acts of hatred in the past twelve months to last a lifetime.
Time and circumstance should have taught us something; if not, we will probably go through the same old experiences. If we learn from our mistakes, we should be a bit wiser on this new journey. Time will tell!
If we could look into the future and see what lies ahead, would we choose to do so? We cannot see or know what the next moment has in store for us. The knock at the door, the letter delivered, or the next ring on our telephone can turn our world into good fortune or disaster. So, what are we to do? Since we have no answers or foresight, we should take hold of the hand of the one that does and say, “Lead and I will follow!” There is no safer way to travel into the unknown!
In writing to young travelers of the Shepard’s clan, I often refer to the words of the wise man who spoke them long, long ago. I believe they are as true today and as up to date as when they were first spoken. Here they are:
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart
and lean not unto thine own understanding
In all they ways acknowledge him,
And He shall distract thy path.”
Prov. 3: 5-6
Bill’s Predictions for the year ahead – Physical world, Political world, Spiritual world. Ready? Buckle up for the ride!
In the Physical world, there will be sunshine and rain, tornadoes and hurricanes likely, earthquakes will be reported in spots all over the globe. There will be drought and flooding, both happening at the same time, but in different areas. There will be fires burning out of control in California, and in other parts of our nation, there will be mudslides and floods.
In the Political world, the race for the White House will become more fierce. The number in the contest will grow smaller, as the day of decision grows nearer. By the time in the coming new year, the decision will have been made. It will then be left to determine, if the right decision was made. And that will be left to one’s own opinion.
I have lived through the terms of sixteen presidents, beginning with President Harding. There have been Democrats and Republicans. During those times, there have been good and bad times and wars and peace. I have seen the negatives and positives and in times, found myself in both corners! Trying to be positive while living in a negative world can be challenging.
In the Spiritual or religious world, there will be rumors and predictions of the end time and its nearing. There will be divisions among the believers and as a result, the world will sink deeper into sin and darkness. Churches will look more inward than outward and numbers attending churches will grow smaller. There will be a “falling away” from the “old time” ways of Christianity, as foreign religions grow stronger in America.
In short, the year that is breaking at our feet offers more of the same a little more of it! You can expect in your own travels, good and bad, smooth and rough, expected and unexpected. Buckle up, keep your head up and know that whatever happens you can overcome. You made it through the past years, and you can make it though this new one – so, Straight ahead into your New Year!
Have a great New Year!
Watch out for the bumps along the road! There will be some! Straight ahead!
Mr. Shepard is a native of Darlington, S.C., and a current resident of Piedmont, S.C. and author of “Mill Town Boy” and “Bruised”. He has been sharing his tales of growing up in Darlington for decades, and we are delighted to share them each week. His mailing address for cards and letters is: Bill Shepard 324 Sunny Lane, Piedmont, S.C., 29673