The media often portrays the transition to the new year with a cartoon showing an old person welcoming the new baby. This emphasizes the birth of a new year — and new opportunities and challenges.
Recently I read another way of portraying the beginning of a new year, a story perhaps more fitting for the consumer society we live in.
A customer was shopping for groceries. She was in the six-item express lane at the grocery store quietly getting angry. She was getting angry because ahead of her, completely ignoring the six-item sign, a woman had slipped into the check-out line pushing a cart piled high with groceries. The cashier beckoned the woman to come forward, looked into the cart and asked her sweetly, “So, which six items would you like to buy?”
The customer was delighted at the cashier’s sweet way of handling the woman, and delighted at the fact that she didn’t let the woman get away with it.
This image of a grocery cart can help us reflect on the kind of “baggage” we carry over from one year to the next. What kind of baggage should we leave behind, as we cross a new threshold?
When retired people move out of their homes into a retirement home, they need to downsize. A new year lets us dream how we can downsize in a personal way — not only materially, but also personally and spiritually.
A new year also lets us dream how the world can downsize from its old ways of violence and corruption and welcome new ways of justice and peace.
Our prayer as we enter a new year can be that our cart may be less filled with what causes hatred and division, to leave room for those items that bring justice and peace.