New Year’s Blessing, or, To Be Reborn

Our transformations can happen any year, on any day, at any moment. But a new year is when we are all forced, somehow, to reckon with the possibility of transformation, of being transformed ourselves and of the world being transformed, if not forced to actually transform ourselves.

What is a year for us? Even before we understood that the earth is spinning and revolving around the star we call our sun, even before precise and standardized calendars, and even for those who live in climes without drastic alterations from one season to the next, years have ever been for us human existences a turning, a turning of things, of all things, including a turning within ourselves. 

Think of a child being born, from the warmth of the womb into the warmth and lack of warmth of this the world we will share with this new life. This life’s new year has begun, its first turn has turned, and now the play and spectacle plays out for it, its adventure begins. Now think of celebrating, or being too tuckered to celebrate, the New Year with this baby in your arms or this baby at your side, and how the light of the day shines differently with this newness doubled upon itself. If we soak into this pool of radiance deeply and serenely enough, the baby, with its powerless power, takes part in granting to us the chance of becoming babies again ourselves, of being renewed, refreshed, illuminated. 

Impossible, Nicodemus said, for a man or a woman to enter the womb again and be reborn. We have heard enough about the messiah and the personality of the godhead and Buddha’s hair on fire, and the dawning of a new year for us is a time to reconcile our budget and make half-wit resolutions. But again, imagine being present with that baby for the birth, or days after the birth, imagine being present for that baby in your arms or at your side, imagine passing the new year beside him. Our own year might be passing with ironic national and collective and personal resolutions, our brains might be numbing, species might be dying in uncountable numbers, we might just ignite nuclear catastrophe, but not for this child. This child is empty, not yet stupid but an idiot, empty so far of our desperate attempts at sanity as well as our desperate insanity, and sways into life with open thoughtlessness before being transformed and molded into this or that. 

being renewed, refreshed, illuminated

So before the transformation, or constitutive of the transformation, is the openness to–the transformation. Like our openness to that new baby boy when he reaches out to us with his new and tiny hands, like the openness we must have to the days before us as we rock him in our arms, like the boy’s openness to the tiredness that overtakes him as you rock him–just as midnight strikes. If, as we woke or wake this day, we feel groggy and not up to it, we’re not in the mood for transformations and the whole discourse seems like hodgepodge, this openness to transformation still surrounds us. We do not have to desire to breathe, or explicitly desire to breathe, for the air to be there nonetheless for the lungs to take in, transform, and enjoy. 

May you become again as little children this year, or at least may a little child remind you of what that means. 

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