The heat waited till the end this year, but it’s started now. It’s already hard to breathe when you step outside for the paper at dawn. Deep, soupy humidity in September is no more pleasant than it is in June, but the days are noticeably shorter already, and we know fall is coming, with its TV pilots and ankle boots and gallery openings and pumpkin spiciness.
The actual new year begins in January, I know, but this is when I mark the passing of the old and the start of the new. I see children on the sidewalk in their uniforms en route to their new classrooms, and last week I printed new syllabi. I notice the leaves on the still-verdant trees beginning to get crispy. I remember this week as the one in which, eight years ago, I lost my father and married my husband in the space of seven days, where I changed my life status irrevocably.
All this makes me want to make resolutions, to change, to make a new beginning, to clean the windows and see everything more clearly. My Pinterest feed is full of encouragements to be the best I can be and get out there and make my way in the world and become a better me. I can do it, with enough elbow grease. I can claw and scrabble toward the light.
But I’m not so sure anymore that trying is the point. In Ephesians 5, Paul quotes an early hymn from church tradition: “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Or, as Eugene Peterson renders it in The Message, “Wake up from your sleep, climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light!” And in his song “All Things New,” Andrew Peterson sings, “Rise up, O you sleeper, awake! / The light of the dawn is upon you. / Rise up, O you sleeper, awake! / He makes all things new.”
So I guess what I need to do is wake up. The renewal part, the new light of the new year’s dawn, is not coming from me.
(Photo by Mikko Lagerstedt)