Do you like to make New Year’s resolutions? Do you make them, then break them? Perhaps you avoid them, because you don’t want to feel disappointed.
In January the earth lies dormant. We rely on hope in January, then on into February, to see us through – before we start tapping our feet, impatient for spring. We scour the ground for the first shoots from bulbs we planted last year. Sometimes winter feels so long.
Yet under the earth these packets of potential lie waiting, and the bare branches of the trees will not be always be bare. They may look dead against a wintry sky but we know they live. They are merely sleeping.
There are times when all we can do is nurture hope. When circumstance confines us, when the answer is ‘not yet’, or ‘later’. When we have to put ourselves on hold, and spend our time yearning for new life – for growth and for change.
I’ve begun to think about New Year hopes rather than resolutions. What are my secret dreams, which I would like to bud and one day bear fruit? What have I forgotten which I need to unearth, and how can I begin that task?
Springing into action in the middle of winter is not something I’m very good at. But perhaps we can use these times of dormancy to think about what we’d like to do – or who we would like to become. Because sometimes we can feel cold, or weak, or in need of a bit of rest.
We could use this as a picture for prayer – what are the packets of potential in our lives, hidden right now but longing to burst forth, when the time is right? What does God want us to nurture, to ponder in the dark before the dawn? Where might we need to recharge and renew ourselves? Rather than resolving to do more, maybe we should resolve to do less.
O God, you know our hidden hopes and our forgotten dreams. Restore them to us; release their potential, as we look beyond winter towards spring. Amen.
This post originally appeared in 2016 as an article in the Sign, a parish magazine supplement published by Hymns Ancient & Modern