As we age, we may become reluctant to become a beginner. Yet the start of a new year is a good time to begin something new. Two years ago, I began to practice yoga. At 55, I was not as limber as I once was, but I took my clumsy, stiff self to yoga with regularity, and now I can bend in ways I couldn’t bend when I first went to yoga class. I still have much to learn, and am often reminded by yoga instructors to come to my mat with a beginner’s attitude.
This year, I am teaching myself to crochet. With a rainy start to the year, I had a great opportunity to devote some time to beginning this new practice. With clumsy fingers and a lot of patience with myself, I am slowly watching a dishcloth take shape.
New years invite us to new beginnings. Yet every day likewise offers us a fresh start. I am drawn to the early Christian monastics, those abbas and ammas of the desert. And as I think about beginning, I offer you a favorite saying of mine:
Abba Poemen said of Abba Pior that every day he made a new beginning.
What a refreshing way to approach life. If we make a new beginning every day, we don’t carry the burden of guilt, shame and regret. Because of this, we can focus on God’s direction in our lives, rather than on ourselves—our failures and shortcomings. We accept God’s forgiveness and grace and rise to live and serve afresh each morning. And, at the end of the day, we let the day go, knowing that we begin again tomorrow.
New year’s resolutions are good, but when we fail at them, we often abandon them and fall back into old habits. If, instead, we could see tomorrow as a new beginning, we might come closer to implementing our desired changes.
When we live like Abba Pior, we live with freshness, hope and expectancy. Surely these are some of the childlike qualities that Jesus was thinking about when he taught us to have the faith of a child. Making a new beginning every day invites us to keep the gift of grace always before us. Instead of dwelling obsessively on the past, we can live and grow closer to the true self God created us to be.