The sun’s rays peek above the tree line as twilight drifts quietly away, the wind propelling the pines from side to side, waving in this new day. The festivities of closing out 2015 and welcoming in 2016 was but a blink. This stillness encourages me to look up and forward for what is yet to be.

I cannot welcome this New Year just yet without contemplating on the ones past. My heart is heavy as I’m gripped with uncertainty, yet oddly thankful. There were six of us siblings – now there are five, as one of the brothers went to heaven ahead of the rest of us; all so close in age none of us remember a time when we were not all together on this earth.

Although it’s been two decades, I both miss and am thankful for all that I learned from my mother, from the quiet conversations with my gentle father, from my “John Wayne” father-in-law, and from my best friend for thirty years, my mother-in-law. Blessings of His grace for sure.

I still miss my husband. I will grieve for him for as long as I love him, and I will love him forever. Occasionally I will feel his arms around me as I rock in his old leather recliner. I smell his scent for a moment, and then gulp in air hungry for more, but it vanishes as if it never was. I recall his jokes that at first caused me to smile and then to just laugh right out loud! “How good is that?” he’d say.

Life for me is my simple home that gives me a hug every time I walk in the door. It backs up to woods filled with my beloved trees, making me feel close to nature and closer to God. My children are good – working on great – and Teddie, my “4-footed-ball-of-white-fur-gift-from-God” patched up my heart from the day he rescued me. These gifts make me happy.

While some friendships have grown distant, others have grown stronger with love, understanding, and acceptance, providing comfort each to the other through our joys and our sorrows. This is the cycle of old friends, new friends and new-old friends.

The general New Year’s protocol is to remember the year past and then to move on to the future. We make resolutions to complete items on our bucket list, to get healthy, to win the lottery, and various other ideas as we resolve to be happier than we were the previous year.

My new year begins on January 1st, every single year. On this day I cook our annual southern dinner of meat loaf fragrant with onions and peppers, the spicy tomato sauce dripping down the side causes my mouth to water. The country fried potatoes’ crispy edges align with the lucky black eye peas, the pepper sauce awakens the turnip greens, and the fragrant cornbread and homemade banana pudding comfort me with a gentle reminder of renewed grace.

Afterward I rush upstairs to begin my New Year’s Day tradition. I clean my closet.

This “tradition” may indeed be a head scratcher for some people who might prefer a nap, a brisk walk or football viewing. Never doubt that it has purpose as it provides much needed activity while I work off that second helping of banana pudding as well as providing a Zen state in which to ponder this New Year.

As I tackle my project, the thought that repeats itself is “let it go”. No, not the song from Disney’s movie Frozen; rather, that which causes confusion. Things like clothes that I hang onto in hopes I’ll get my “other” body back, shoes that defy logic as to why I bought them in the first place, all the junk in all those purses that I leave when I change to a different one, and lastly all those thoughts that throw life off kilter.

Some say the New Year provides the opportunity for a “do-over”. That’s an intriguing outlook with a big but, for the past is not the past – it remains the present and it will be the future unless I cleanse my spirit by letting go.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes; some were just dumb while others were hurtful. The question I ask myself is this – “Did I cause hurt to others on purpose.”

“Maybe,” I say out loud, after all I’m the only one in the closet.

“There was the time when I caused hurt to …?”

“But, but, but,” my mind continues to whirl. “What about the time when I got hurt by …?”

What about it? On this new day I forgive and then, I let… it…go.

After all, the best way to be forgiven is to ask for forgiveness.

Extra vigilance is required to  watch for soul clutter, otherwise, it collects like dust in an abandoned house. When my resolve weakens, I check my reality in my current moment – in this moment it is this cluttered closet. I stand back looking at the growing pile of clothes that are destined for the clothes ministry, while my mind discards those things that I need to donate to the forgiveness pile. While I’m at it, I throw in those shoes, and dump the crap out of those purses right along with anger, guilt, resentment and sour grapes.

An unintended consequence of cleaning is discovering hidden treasures. Part of my New Year’s tradition is finding gifts for the children that I had hidden and forgotten; they then became New Year gifts. I have found other delights such as my long-lost pearl earrings and those new embroidered jeans, now out of style. I’m now on the cusp of venturing into a New Year, which had seemed to be a dark and scary place, knowing full-well that I can’t go backwards just as I cannot stay where I am. So, faith and fear hold hands as I leap from my despised safety net into what is meant to be.

Things have a way of working out as they should and I will discern what clutters my soul; further avoidance is confusing to my spirit and to my mind. Embracing this New Year moment by moment, then day by day, then month by month creates, by its nature, a fulfilling life because it is a life of my choosing. I pause just one more moment and gaze around at my reality. The clutter is now out of my closet as well as my soul.

Peace be with you in this New Year.

1 John 1:4 “These things we write, so that our JOY may be made complete.”