The year 2017 is now history, and many of us are saying, “Thank goodness!” This December, the media has done a superb,sometimes overwhelming, job of reminding us of what a consequential year it has been. Looking back on a year just completed is a tradition I have kept for years. I now see that practice as an important spiritual exercise. It can be a painful exercise as we are reminded of mistakes or losses or hard choices we have experienced. On the other hand, it can be a rewarding journey as we see what those events have taught us.
This season my oldest granddaughter is making the difficult choice of which college to attend. It seems to her and her family like a monumental decision. And it is! I have watched my son and daughter-in-law struggle to help her make the best choice – realizing that a mistake may have life-long consequences. What I hope she (and her parents and siblings) will tuck into their memory is that mistakes are common and often create the best learning experiences if we let the Holy Spirit speak to us about them. Mistakes are redeemable. Often our mistakes and losses are what transform us into people we never dreamed that we could be – wiser, more compassionate, more willing to take risks, and more eager to chase our dreams.
Richard Rohr has a beautiful way of summing up this truth: “What may look like loss or death is in fact a becoming” (Daily Meditation, Dec. 14, 2017). “Becoming” is the gift and responsibility God built into us. “Becoming” means growing into ourselves as God’s children by learning from everything we experience. As Michel Quoist has said, “We are not God. We are simply the image of God, and our work is gradually to discover that image and set it free” (quoted by Matt Johnson in the “Study Guide” to The Magnificent Story by James Bryan Smith).
Blessings to you as you reflect on the past and walk into the future “setting free the image” of God in you, and therefore being always in the process of “becoming.