Dear Newman Community,
If you’re like me, we’re only a couple weeks into 2017 and already I feel the “Happy New Year!” glimmer starting to fade. This weekend students are returning to campus for the spring semester. Soon they’ll be busy with syllabi, then reading assignments, then tests. Soon we’ll be busy at Newman with programs and events Mass on Campus, Midweek Mass and Dinner, etc. Business as usual. Or is it?
While I can feel all this barreling at me like a fast moving truck, a deeper seated part of me says, Wait! Enjoy the newness! Isn’t this spirit of the new and unexpected what we’ve just celebrated with the birth of Christ? Isn’t this sense of seeking what we’ve recently witnessed with the Magi traveling to see the newborn King? Why then, am I so quick to say goodbye to all that and get back to the grind?
There is so much goodness in the everyday. As Catholic author Matthew Kelly writes, “God loves the ordinary.” Yet, one of the fundamental messages of Christianity is that of hope. So rather than just get back to business as usual, I invite us to pause and consider, not simply stock New Year’s resolutions, but how we might intentionally make this new year a time to cultivate a beginner’s mind recognizing God’s abundant goodness, seeking opportunities for growth, and nurturing hope in the ordinary of our daily lives.
Start the New Year with a Beginner’s Mind
“What might 2017 become if I opened it up to the possibility of being a genuinely new episode of my life instead of a tiresome rerun or lame sequel? What if I approached today with an open, eager spirit, forsaking all preconceptions about these free and curious beings who inhabit my life and roam through my territory? Zen Buddhists have a name for this stance: beginner’s mind. Author Shunryu Suzuki notes, “In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
If you want a Catholic name for beginner’s mind, try grace. The divine river of grace flows through our days, inviting us to wade in, play, refresh ourselves, dare to take a risk and do something differently. Grace has the full authority of holy transformation in its waters. Just as you can never step into the same river twice, you never emerge from the river of grace quite the same as when you waded in.”
Excerpt from article of same title,
U.S. Catholic magazine, January 2017
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