There is a billboard that I see on my way to work each day. I did not notice it before, when it was complete. But now, it is ripped and torn leaving only one bit left visible: a round-faced man with a bit of a bewildered look on his face. It is as if he is saying, “What happened?!?”
It sticks in my mind. It’s not just that I drive by it every day; there is something about the look in the man’s eyes, the torn paper around him. It looks as if there was a family there before, or maybe smiling friends or coworkers. But now they are gone. There is just this round-faced man and the look.
I think about the people that I see in my office. I think about them on this night. It is a night where we remember the last twelve months; we look ahead to the next year. For some that means that a loved one that was there last year is not this year. For others there may be a relationship or marriage that seemed solid before, but now there is fear that it may not last through the next year. But for others there is hope that the difficult times are past; that a new year is a chance for a new start.
My family and I have experienced a new start this year. But it has been a year of great transition. We left steady jobs to raise children, to move closer to family who needed us . . . and we need them too. We have experienced in all of this the grief that comes with leaving friends and congregations that had nurtured us: change is hard. And with these changes have come times of anger and frustration, but also grace and opportunities.
As the new year begins I remember all of these moments, in my own life and in the lives of the people I have come in contact with this last year. We all know that life can be difficult; but may we be aware as we stand at the crossroads, from one year to the next, from one part of our life to the next, may we be aware that God is with us. May we be aware that there is always hope.