Beyond Blue

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Pope Benedict XVI writes a beautiful reflection about the concept of “time” and about how the end of the year offers us hope, peace, and an opportunity for change and conversion:

The year is ending. This means, as always, that we spend a few minutes in reflection. We draw up balance-sheets and make an effort to anticipate what the future may bring. For a moment we become conscious of the strange thing called “time,” which otherwise we simply use without thinking about it. We feel both the melancholy and the consolation of our own transiency. Much that caused us distress, much that weighed us down and seemed to make progress impossible, has now passed and become quite unimportant. As we look back, difficult days are transfigured in memory, and the now almost forgotten distress leaves us more peaceful and confident, more composed in the face of present threats, for these too will pass. The consolation of transiency: Nothing lasts, no matter how important it claims to be. 

But this consoling thought, which gives patience its character of promise, also has its discouraging and saddening aspect. Nothing lasts, and therefore along with the old year not only difficulties but much that is beautiful has passed away, and the more we move beyond the midpoint of our lives, the more poignantly we feel this change of what was once future and then present into something past. We cannot say to any moment: “Stay a while! You are so lovely!” Anything that is within time comes and then passes away.

Our feelings toward the new year show the same ambivalence as our feelings toward the old year. A new beginning is something precious; it brings hope and possibilities as yet undisclosed. “Every beginning has a magic about it that protects us and helps us live” (Herman Hesse) … What can we say at this moment of transition? First of all, we can do the very human thing the moment urges upon us: we can use the time of reflection in order to stand aside and widen our vision, thus gaining inner freedom and a patient readiness to move on again.

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