Rhythms Of Moon And Tide

Speaker: Rev. Carolyn R. Brown

Day six of the New Year. A young year just making its first steps into our consciousness. Faltering unsteady steps not really leading anywhere at the moment. Just wobbling in place, holding much the same promise that the old year left in passing. Much the same struggle and pain. Much the same political and social conflict. Our world still notices difference far too much. We still have the need of possessing certain things, certain places. Our grasp is tight on that which is important for us to keep. Our fingers whiten as the blood fails to run through their tightness. Countries stop the blood of their peoples in the attempt to wrest control from the opponents they have created for themselves.

Day six of the New Year. Watching those wobbling steps of the new year, we remember the birth of the old year just past with the conflict surrounding the White House. We recall the heaviness of two times four and one more. Death came too early for these nine. The bow and the cello sing to us no longer. How and why do our young strike out against life? Yet we rested through the dark days of spring with innocent hopes for the rest of that year. Hopes that burned as death again attacked us with four crashes – and the sounds of mourning still echo across our land. The young year aged far too quickly into an early coldness on day 254. Day 254 will not be forgotten easily. War news filled the air and falling leaves bombed the lands of the Afghan peoples. The old year could not pass quickly enough.

Day six of the New Year. What is new this year? Can we write on the slate of 2002, covered with the dust of the towers? Covered with our tears, fears and economic insecurity. Or do we follow the familiar patterns that protect us in order to make sense out of the world in which we live. Finding safety in repetition, in knowing what we will do next, having a plan for the day, week and sometimes even a longer period of time. How can you know today what you will do during December when it comes around again? Yet some of us do know exactly what our plans for travel or for visits from family will be far in advance. The calendar is set for the year and this brings solace. Nothing is planned that is not planned. No sickness, no surprises, no whims, no spontaneous trip to the moon on gossamer wings.

We make much of the New Year. At our parties the baby new year enters in diapers wearing the sash with the new numbers. Old man time with scythe to lean on waves in passing and retires to the farm. After the clock strikes twelve, we sit around the table, looking at the cards in our hand. It is a new deal. Some fold the hand and return to the familiar without playing. What are the odds this time around? Is this the perfect deal, with the chance to win, or at least to play the hand well. Could this be the grand slam with bonus points and the chance to become master of all we see. East and west against north and south, or south and east against west and north. What direction does the play follow and how much is at stake. We’ve got to know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em. The dealer controls the play while we watch and wonder, aware of how much is riding on the game. Sweet land of liberty.

Day 6 of the “what is new about the new year?’ Life goes on much the same. Today seems familiar in many ways – did I live this day before about three weeks ago? Did I eat the same breakfast? Have lunch in the same restaurant? Drive home the same way? Take the same bus? “But it’s new,” you say. It’s different. We haven’t been this way before. Why would we go this way? Where does it lead?

Sweet land of liberty. Where the rhythm of moon and tide caress us. The new moon, the high tide and the low. Rhythm supporting hope and life. Cold darkness grows lighter and we enter the hopeful time of the year. Winter, the time for resting and preparing for the birth of spring. Is this the piece of new that speaks so deeply to our hope. Once again the world will burst forth in flower and leaf and be our garden of Eden again. Maybe this time we won’t commit the sin. Maybe this time we will stay in the garden. The tree of knowledge doesn’t look so tempting now that we have lived through the winter.

Seeds sleep in the cold ground blanketed by snow and ice. They are ready to break forth into singing the spring to our awaiting ears. We are listening carefully. On day 65 or 70 perhaps we will hear the rich earth crack as pointed noses of tulip and daffodil, crocus and hyacinth press upwards towards the lengthening days of sun and shower. The noise of this cracking becomes the hum of insects that return to drink the nectar of the ever blooming spring day. Herons, cranes, gulls, hummingbirds return from their southerly sojourns to decorate our ponds and lakes.

Is this the promise of the new year. Is this why we hope? Is this what we feel in the tiny hairs on the back of our necks rising with the earlier light? Is this the impetus to feel each new year is opportunity to begin again. A new harvest will come after a time of resting, a time of planting, and a time of tending. It will not happen unless we are aware that the possibility exists. The small voice of change in our hearts, the crack of the hard exterior of the monotonous safety of our plans can break through and become the music of growth and spiritual progress. Each day of this new year, day 20, day 30, day 45, is an opening for the rich earth of learning to love more cheerfully, gaining ever increasing understanding of self and our place in the larger growing garden around us, opening our lives to the great potential that is ours.

For the seeds planted in our hearts are seeds of varying hues, of wildly different cultures, diverse dimensions. They need not be the same old seeds that we experienced blooming 365 days ago. We can choose a seed that was planted there by a word so important that it stands out in our consciousness as a word that must be allowed to become a reality. Or a seed that came from a gesture that gave us a feeling of belonging, a sense of ourselves as part of, not apart from. Or a seed of hope that my life can turn a little corner and become different through the small steps that a new year makes. Day one, day two, day three, until finally the days have increased and the goal is ours.

Or a seed of quieting that resentment, a calming seed of reconsideration and reevaluation of an old hurt, a seed that grows a gentle petal of softness around the prickly points of contention. Or a seed of creative energy that rattles around in the paper packet and cries out to be planted. Let me grow or the noise of this paper packet will keep you awake at night. Put me on paper, paint me, build me, sing me into existence. Give me the life that I need to become a beacon for the hopes and dreams of others. Or a seed of gentleness and love that nurtures our loved one who especially needs our caring, a seed of patience and acceptance of the differences of one who is slower and slower to rise from the grassy lawn each spring.

We carry within us these possibilities, potential growing loveliness of spirit and soul, greatness of purpose and outreach, gifts to bring to our plot of this part of the universe.

New and not new. Each year we watch this pattern of resting through winter, breaking through and blooming into spring and summer. Coloring the fall and finding ourselves back in the folds of winter’s time for regeneration.

Or is any of this new at all. Is it as old as time, as life, as the rhythms that move the waters, fill the mouths of rivers with the richness of silt, creating fertile valleys and moving mountain waterfalls with carpets of color flashing on the hillsides into the stands of aspens. Is it as regular as the tides, the new moon and the full, pulling our earth oblate to spring back again. How long is the new year new? How long is the new year old?

Does the full moon come more often now? The rhythm of life is picking up and the new year doesn’t wait to replace the old. Crossing the threshold of our measure of life requires that we keep moving. Stepping into this liminal period we shake our heads that last year is over and a new one has begun, with so many of our plans undone. Looking back we see how life interrupted our dreams and goals. Looking forward will it be the same again? Or will I experience the internal change I seek. Gaining new wisdom, new insights for living the life I love. New skills in relating to my family and friends, my work and my rest.

How great is the harvest of our living just past. Seeds fell upon fertile ground in our hearts leading us to a greatly expanded awareness of the importance of freedom of religion. And a sense of urgency to continue working for justice and understanding, knowing that openness and opportunity must be available throughout the world. We balance the losses, as we proudly point to life well lived, to generosity, to small successes and staying slightly ahead. Well done, self. Look at what you did. How I cherish this year just past with all it cycles and challenges.

I step into the newness of promise, potential and possibility, perhaps not for me but for someone I love. My resolution – – I’m going to do as well this year as I did last year. Expanding and contracting with the tides, I feel the rhythms of the natural world about me and within me that nurture my spirit and feed the seeds planted in me: seeds of hope, courage, caring and engagement. Listening for sounds of change, I smell the damp earth, feel the degrees of comfort, see the growing light and let it in to germinate my vision.

My vision – Look not at this year or that year, this day or that day, but feel the rhythm of moon and tide – the blessing of being alive.