New Year’s Day really isn’t different than any other day of the year. It is a day that has no real significance other than its place on the calendar. However, that lack of meaningfulness also is New Year’s greatest asset. New Year’s Day belongs to everyone because it has no particular religious or political meaning to anyone. It is the one and only day of the year on which the entire world joins together to celebrate as the clock strikes 12:00 in all 24 times zones.
On the other hand, New Year’s Day somehow does feel different, and that particularly is true the older we get. We have an innate sense that another year inexorably has come and gone and that our own lives are passing by as surely as the Earth spins on its axis.
If there is any day of the year that gives us pause to reflect, it is New Year’s Day. We recall with sadness those who have left us in the year that now belongs to the past, but we rejoice in those who have joined us. We are a year older — but are we any wiser? Did we keep any of those New Year’s resolutions that we made 365 days ago, or have we regressed?
Individually and collectively, we faced many challenges in 2013. But while we all hope that the coming year will be better, that hope is tempered by the reality that it is part of the human condition that sorrow and suffering inevitably will occur in the year to come. We can pray that 2014 will be good to us, but none of us has a crystal ball to predict what the New Year will bring.
We have reprinted below Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Ring Out Wild Bells.” Tennyson’s poem was written in 1850, but like all works of art, its message is timeless and it sums up the hope and meaning of the New Year much better than we ever could.
We wish all of our readers a Happy and Healthy 2014.
Ring Out Wild Bells
By Alfred Lord Tennyson
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.