Tag Archives: New Year

Building Peace: A Greeting

In May 2016, I started a series of blog posts entitled “Building Peace”. This led, two years later, to a book that tied together many of the ideas presented in these posts, ideas that remain fundamental to the role I want to play in this world. I have written just a couple “Building Peace” posts since then, perhaps because I find this theme far more obvious now than when I first began tugging at stubborn threads. Somewhere along the road, these nascent ideas coalesced into an identity.

And it has been a road.

A significant personal change is that I like who I am; the adult can speak to the child in me without crying. In optimistic moments, it’s enough just to know that. In pessimistic ones, I still find that it helps to spend time among trees.

Rereading, I stand by what I wrote back then. So maybe it’s not that I have changed, but that the way I understand myself has changed. Not so lost after all, perhaps.

December in the Gregorian calendar situates us at the end of a cycle. There are certainly other means of marking time, but standardization allows for a more connected world, and a blog is a product of such a world. Readers of this blog come from 151 countries and this is astonishing to me. I thank you for the privilege of writing and I thank you for your patience in reading.

Western tradition says that this is the time of year for us to reflect on the past year and resolve, in the new year, to act differently. To push back on convention, as usual, I would like to suggest that the best time to make a change is the moment in which you recognize that a change should be made. Walk peacefully.

But in keeping with convention, which has a time and a place, I offer the greeting that ends many yoga classes. It takes different structures, forms, and languages, and it has meant different things to me at different times. I share this greeting because it is a reflection of how I try to walk in the world, behave in relationships with others, and consider my actions in relation to the planet. I hope that it resonates with you, too. And regardless, I wish for you what you wish for you.

Hands to the heart reminding us to have clear and loving intentions.
Hands to the forehead reminding us to have clear and loving thoughts.
Hands to the mouth reminding us to have clear and loving communications.
The light in me recognizes and honours the light in you.
Namaste.

Schalkau, Germany – September 2021

5781

Tonight is Erev Rosh Hashanah, the eve of the Jewish new year. We are celebrating 5781 journeys around the sun. These are 5781 journeys of love and loss, peace and war, fear and joy, hopelessness and solace.

Perhaps it’s because we’ve had such a strange six months that I’m not feeling the familiar ache to be with my family that I usually experience around the High Holy Days. I felt that ache acutely for weeks and weeks and perhaps I’m just accustomed to it now. I think the unprecedented life we’ve all been living is what has actually left me quite calm about my plans to welcome the new year quietly and with reflection rather than attending socially distant religious services in a normally communal environment.

Given everything, it seems fitting to begin a new year taking explicit action at making the world a better place – the world needs it. This is why I decided to go to the blood bank right after school. The queue both inside and at the door indicated that I was not the only one feeling the need to act and it was heartening to be in the company of so many strangers.

As I walked slowly home from the bus stop, I felt the strength of my heartbeat and I felt it working hard. The world needs us to work hard – it will not heal on its own.

As this year flows into the next my wish is, as always, for peace. Peace among friends, among strangers, with the earth, water, and air. And my commitment is to take actions to achieve it. I welcome all to join me.

Shana tovah u’metukah.

Auckland, New Zealand – December 2018

So Long, 2015!

On New Year’s Eve, the clock strikes midnight and a new day starts. And that’s about it. I was about 10 years old the first time I was allowed to stay up to watch the ball drop, and I was sorely disappointed. The adults kissed, sipped champagne that no one wanted, turned off the TV, and ushered us kids up to bed. Happy New Year.

People in a variety of lunar-based religions and cultures around the world ring in a new year at different times, and follow different calendars that track different years. The Jewish new year celebration, Rosh Hashanah, takes place in the month of Tishrei (usually September or October) and this year we welcomed 5776. The Islamic calendar has changed a bit in recent years, but the new year often falls in October or November. Chinese New Year usually falls in January or February, and this year will be the Year of the Monkey.

However, most people live their daily lives on the solar Gregorian calendar, which has decided that December 31 is New Year’s Eve and that 2016 begins on January 1. Parts of the Western world adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582; it replaced the Julian calendar, reforming leap years, leap days, and certain Christian holiday observances. As with any change, switching to the Gregorian calendar did not happen over night. Europe’s majority Catholic countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal) were the first adopters, with China waiting until the revolutions settled down in 1929. And because of time zones, we all ring in the new year at different times over a period of 26 hours. Yes, 26. Because not all countries have daylight savings time. Samoa and Christmas Island are the first countries to enter 2016 and most of the US Minor Outlying Islands are the last.*

As I wait for 2016 to cross over into Eastern Standard Time, I generally like to think about what I’ve done over the course of the past year, as well as what I hope to do in the coming year. I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because I’m stubborn and make commitments to myself on a regular basis (and then, because I’m stubborn, actually follow them). That being said, I have goals. While I’m not going to share them on my blog, I will write them down in my journal so they’re documented for the sake of progeny.

In the meantime, today is just another day – with a big party and a whole lot of glitter at the end.

 

*The information in this paragraph comes from this website. (I am forever reminding my students to cite their sources and feel guilty when I don’t do the same.)