We may rue the old year’s too soon passing. Whoever gave the year just ending the emblem of an old man was no doubt trying to depict the rapidness of time’s passing.
Although we can expect a regular progression of growth for a human through stages of infancy, childhood, adolescence, teens and the rolling adult decades until death, the year itself is pictured as maturing at a rapid pace—and is old and dying with little regard for any stages in between birth and death.
On the other hand, picturing a new year as an infant with infinite possibilities is also a clever idea. With a baby we have great hopes and expectations. So it is with the New Year. Not knowing what it holds, we can anticipate the best from its days, turning one by one as the pages of an unwritten book. So here is my sincere wish for all of you readers: A happy New Year to you! May 2005 hold blessings unexpected and may the challenges be met with faith and confidence.
As I look at the headlines at the beginning of this New Year, I am chagrined by the suffering and need brought about by the Indian Ocean earthquake on December 26, 2004 and the subsequent tsunamis that rendered the death toll in excess of 150,000 and the misplaced and homeless at an astonishing figure. Relief efforts have bogged down because of crowded airports in the affected areas and the inability of volunteers to get supplies to those who need them most. Suffering is on many levels. Sudden deaths of family members, swept away by giant waves. Thousands were buried in mass graves. Survivors wonder whether others dear to them are dead or lost. Contaminated water, food and living space are conditions that will bring disease and plague.
We can hardly imagine the hardships and heartaches the affected people are enduring. Our humanitarian decency wants to help, to reach out, to comfort. I think when I read of the areas hardest-hit that friends of ours once served or now serve as missionaries in these locations. I wonder if those still there are safe. I pray they are.
As I write this on January 4, 2005, I read headlines that President Bush has appointed his father, former president George H. W. Bush, and former president Bill Clinton to head private fund-raising efforts to supplement the $350 million pledged in relief to tsunami sufferers by the U. S. Government. The president was criticized for waiting three days to respond to the disaster, and then for his pledges from the U. S. first at $15 million, upped to $35 million, and then to $350 million. The effort to raise private funds is a challenge. Much is needed for health concerns, caring for the survivors who are refugees, clean-up and economic recovery. Imagine not even having clean water to drink when thirsty or nourishing food to eat when you are hungry, or clothing to replace the tatters that half-way cover your body. These conditions, and worse, face five million displaced people. The numbers are almost beyond our comprehension.
My intention is not to be morose but to remind us in this New Year that there is a world of need out there. We who are blessed need to share our blessings. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:
All sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together
To make up a year
And a sphere.
c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Jan. 6, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.