How to Cross the Threshold of the New Year
by Kim Orr, 2023
The year turns. You stand on the threshold of a promise.
Deep within you feel a sense of hope -- especially if this past year was difficult or sad, held pain or loss. You have a sense that this coming year will be better.
This is the gift and the promise of the New Year. And you are right to believe the promise as you cross the threshold into this new chapter of your life.
That’s because your hope is a gift that comes from inside of you. You are made aware of it from the outside – by the turning of the year. New Year’s Day and the days that lead up to it are the threshold of your awareness – on the threshold you glimpse the gift of your hope.
New Year’s Day is a day apart. Our culture recognizes the importance of this passage, the crossing into a new beginning. And we give it an entire day.
On this threshold day, you pause in time, trusting in beginning anew.
Trust in new beginnings is the source of all resolutions. New Year’s resolutions express hope for better things. You trust in your own ability to work toward whatever you seek, which is why you have hope.
Resolutions recognize your place in the order of existence -- that there are things outside of your control. There are fires and floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. There are things in the natural order of life that are painful – illness and death – which you cannot change or prevent.
But there are many subtle and important things which you may affect – both within yourself and through yourself for others.
Cultivating the trust and hope that you feel on New Year’s Day is a practice that uncovers two hidden treasures. The first is that you come to savor, more and more, all that is Good, Beautiful, and True in your life.
The truth that your life is meaningful and important becomes more evident to you. The more evident this truth is, the more delight you have in your own existence – as you are, where you are.
This is the ground of gratitude.
Uncover the first treasure and you discover the second: when faced with something disastrous or painful, you have the internal resources to provide enormous help and hope to yourself and to others.
Your treasures, once hidden, are revealed from within you and sustain you as you carry their gifts of service and hope out into the world – into your relationships, your community, your work.
This is the trust in new beginnings and the promise of the New Year.
How do you accept that gift? Fulfill that promise?
Make your resolutions sustainable. Make the actions that will bring them into being simple, and plant them by practicing as you can when you can.
They may grow slowly, but in the fertile soil of practice – steady and slow – they will take stong root.
You may not even notice that they are growing. But they are. What happens underground at first may not be noticeable, but soon there are small shoots that show because of your tending.
Chose actions you can take each day – or every few days, or when circumstances present themselves – that are not overwhelming, that don’t require drastic change all at once.
Sustained change is only possible through incremental, gentle shifting.
For example, if you have resolved to be more patient, you will have many opportunities to practice whenever you find yourself impatient with a person or a circumstance.
Create a practice for yourself for when you feel impatient. Have it ready beforehand, know what it is. Maybe it’s the proverbial count to ten, or taking two or three slow, invisible breaths.
If you try it and your impatience still has a grip on you, that’s okay. You’ll have another chance. Meanwhile, do the practice you’ve set for yourself when you don’t need it -- practice when you are not feeling impatient. It’s effect when you are impatient will increase.
Be kind to yourself as you work toward the fulfillment of your resolution.
Over time you may forget or not have time for practice. But nothing is lost. Each time you remember to practice you make an impression in your body and your mind.
This impression grows deeper and its effects are more lasting each time you practice. The effects don’t disappear when you forget or don’t have time. They are cumulative, waiting to be renewed and increased until you have achieved a habit of body and character.
On this threshold of New Beginnings, give yourself time to pause and reflect – both upon the year that is passing, and your hopes for the one to come. Give yourself time to articulate clearly what you hope for. Find a practice that will help you to bring your hopes into being – slowly, steadily, effectively.
This New Year’s Day what will you Promise yourself on the Threshold of Hope?