NEW YEARS AND NEW STARTS by Liz Manning


Happy New Year Everyone!

No I’m not being a late running March Hare. Today is actually 1st January for all who follow the Julian calendar. So if you are Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or Berber, Happy New Year to you my friends.


Most of us in the western world go by the Gregorian calendar, which gradually replaced the Julian from the late 16th century, correcting an anomaly within the extra leap year day. The Julian calendar was itself a standardisation to prevent errors from a previous system of variable year lengths, in which politicians added or refused any number of intercalary days between February and March to promote their own ends. Announced with little notice, these meant many Romans, just like us between Christmas and New Year, literally didn’t know what day it was.


But it wasn’t the only calendar in use. There were the Asian, Alexandrian, and Syro-Macedonian calendars, as well as others. They may have aligned with the Julian month lengths (which we still use today) but didn’t necessarily start the year at the same time. Over the centuries, the Alexandrian used 29th August and the Mediaeval western church opted between Christmas, 25th March, and Easter. And of course we have our own tax year beginning in April and academic year in September.

Times to reset the clock, turn over a new leaf, make a new start.


I’m making a new start myself this week – returning to work after an extended period of sick leave. It’s a phased return – short hours, office based to begin with; my first day catching up with emails from home.


I guess you could call it a gradual new start. But it’s no less daunting.


I know because work stress contributed to my ill health, I have to do some things differently, establish new habits, abandon some old ones. No more skipping breaks or working late. Taking time to consider requests rather than a knee jerk yes. No more surrendering to guilt when I want to say no. More delegation and trusting others. Making self-care a much higher priority. Doing something I love every day.


New starts should be a familiar concept to Christians. We just call it by other names: repentance, renewal, resurrection. Like the old hymns say:


 ‘New, every morning it’s new


The love of God to me is wonderfully new’

and:

‘Great is They faithfulness, O God my Father

Morning by morning new mercies I see.’


We have a God of new starts. A loving Father who doesn’t just offer chance after chance to wipe away our failures and mistakes to begin again, but gets His hands covered in brick dust and mortar as He rebuilds alongside us.


Some new starts are forced by an earthquake of trauma. Some new starts require a complete redesign. Some new starts come after we realise we have been doing something all wrong and need a whole different approach. Others are gradual, one small change at a time, a tweak, an edit. Leaving something for a while then going back. Casting a fresh eye over our work, deciding what can be kept and what needs to change.


A new start, change, can be scary words. No wonder some reject New Year’s resolutions so vehemently. Perhaps we should try the word ‘growth’ instead, remembering roots grow in the dark, spring comes around again, worrying less when we get pruned, and trusting the Gardener more.

So here’s to growth in your new year – whenever it starts.



Liz Manning fits writing around being an Occupational Therapist, BB captain, wife, and mum to two adult sons. Or perhaps it's the other way round. She blogs regularly at https://thestufflifeismadeofblog.wordpress.com/




Comments

  1. I've been an Anabaptist for 27 years and I can assure you that this is the first time I have ever heard a suggestion that we follow the Julian calendar! Where did you get that idea?

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    1. I have to confess, Veronica, that a lot of my info came from Wikipedia. I've gone back and checked the page but now it only lists Eastern Orthodox, some Oriental Orthodox, and Berbers as s till using the Julian calendar. I'll certainly change the post to reflect this.

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  2. I love the song 'Morning has broken, like the first morning...' I take great comfort from that when life has been messy!

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    1. Yes, that's another one I was thinking about.

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  3. The 'knee jerk yes' has got me into so much trouble!

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  4. I don't feel we should give ourselves unnecessary pressures as writers. Just take your time and enjoy what you do, Liz, that's probably the best way to write anyway.

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    1. Writing is less of a pressure for me than my day job, to be honest. But one of the things I'm going to do is make sure I prioritise writing as one of the things that does me good.

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  5. I love this. Some real life lessons here, Liz, which I've had to learn

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    1. Some life lessons that I thought I had already learned but no...

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  6. Thanks Liz, I hope your phased return goes as smoothly as possible and you are given the grace to change the things you need to. Good advice to remember that pruning is an essential part of growth, thank you.

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    1. Verdict on the first two days: tiring! Keeping in mind that I am still recovering

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