A Modest Proposal For the New Year
In St. Patrick's cathedral in Dublin there is one particular memorial stone in the floor that stands out above all the others--a stone dedicated to Jonathan Swift. Jonathan Swift was a 17th century author, essayist, political satirist and also a clergyman.
Swift is perhaps most famous for writing the satirical travelogue Gulliver's Travels. He also served as the Dean of St. Patrick's, where he is memorialized by the aforementioned stone, a stained glass window, statues and the like.
When I stumbled upon his memorial stone during a visit to the cathedral a couple of years ago, I was elated to find a familiar name in the floor. You see, all of the memorials that surrounded me, the altars, niches, paintings, statuary, marble slabs and the like were honoring people I'd never heard of before.
In fact, MOST of the hundreds of memorials in the church were of people who'd been long forgotten--their names shuffled over and smoothed out by centuries of being walked on by the faithful and the curious.
Marcus Aurelius wrote in his Meditations, "Everything lasts for a day, the one who remembers and the remembered." All of those people on the floor of the cathedral were well-known and beloved in their time. But now, only one in hundreds is remembered, and even then only by a few.
As I thought about my visit to St. Patrick's this morning, I recalled this satirical quote from Swift himself: "May you live all the days of your life." Come on, you know that's funny---a 17th century, nerdy kind of funny, but funny. And also deeply true, as well.
How many of us really live all the days of our life?
In these closing days of Christmas, I find myself reflecting on all of the things that happened this year, and where I was a year ago. So much has changed and so quickly. Job was right when he said, "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle."
The end of the year is approaching, and we'll get the chance to start anew in just a few days. What will you do with this new beginning that you've been given? This new chance to do life more fully, to live in abundance, be present in the moment and stop worrying about the future?
What will you do to make the few days you have on this earth count for something other than your own notoriety, your own affirmation?
May you find true purpose for your life in the coming year as you surrender it and begin stumbling madly after Jesus with joyous, wild abandon. May you embrace every moment as a moment to glorify God with your words and deeds. May you feel the joy of redemption in the Spirit that surrounds you in love and flows between us all, drawing us closer to Christ and one another.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.