There is a lightness in my heart today and it’s fragile and warm and cool at the same time. It is a physical feeling in my chest that I feel when the Holy Spirit is present and communicating, a gift of a feeling that I’ve had maybe a dozen times in my life, maybe less than ten. It’s there, quiet and small, at 3:36pm on New Year’s Eve, getting my attention, and whispering that He is a God of ‘re’.
Restoration. Renewal. Resurrection. Redemption. Renovation. Resolution. Rescue.
Recover. Reclaim. Recommit. Recreate. Reconcile. Resuscitate. Restart.
There was a priest on Boston Catholic Television years ago who changed my life with his faithful and grounded television rosaries. Fr. Frank McFarland prayed in various settings, and in his kind, gentle way, helped me see the beauty, strength, and flexibility of that prayer. He said you could pray it in whole or in part, distracted or focused. He said to think of it as putting a quarter in the telephone to connect you to Our Lord and Our Lady. He said the beads were like a lasso, keeping you close to Mary and Jesus so they could read the mind and heart.
In one of his reflections, Fr. Frank said God was a God of ‘re’. “It means ‘again’,” he said, as he spoke about the grace that God lavishes on us over and over. Fr. Frank said we could receive as much of the Holy Spirit as we could hold, that we should put out both hands, spiritually speaking, like you’d see a kid do to get m & ms in a bag from a grownup. He was one of the first people I ever knew to teach this abundant, grace-filled image of God, and it changed me.
As I look back on this year, I can see the impact of the re-ness of God, how He gives us second chances, and thirds, and fourths, to get it right. How He works tenderly to help restore and make good from all things for those He loves. (Romans 8:28) I see restarts and reconciliations and resurrection and the potential for a whole lot more of that in the year to come. And it turns out, He knows what He’s doing and He always did.
I don’t know many people who weren’t kicked around, hard, by 2018. Someone in a writing group I’m part of said she surveyed everyone she knew, and exactly two people said they’d enjoyed the year. That sounds right to me. It was a time of trial on so many levels and I’ve never been more ready to turn a page. I know I’m not alone.
In one of my favorite podcasts, The Next Right Thing, Emily P. Freeman shares a reflection on welcoming a new beginning. She says,
“I’m learning ever so slowly that maturity and a growing faith show up not in our ability to stand up straight and blameless, but in our willingness to turn, again and again, back to the face of God. Not once, but a thousand times once and then a thousand times more. We would be without hope if not for our Kind Companion. Jesus came not to make all new things but to make all things new. Not some things, but all things. Not easy, not quick, but new.
Our work is to acknowledge the old. His work is to bring forth the new. Our work is to turn. His work is to transform.
Our work is to believe it has been done, and then to live like it’s true. His work is to make it true indeed.
May we acknowledge the loving kindness of God as he walks with us in the new light of morning, both today and then again tomorrow.
“The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” “
Friends, I can’t say it better than that and I won’t try. Please give yourself the pure gift of listening to Emily’s soothing voice and wisdom in this eight-minute podcast as you prepare to go out tonight or as you sit in your kitchens with your coffee or take a walk on New Year’s Day. God is a God of ‘re’ and how wonderful! He doesn’t make all new things, but He does make all things new. I can’t wait to see what that looks like in my life and in the lives of those I love. Let’s turn the page together.