New Year Potential

We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives not looking for flaws, but for potential.  (Ellen Goodman) 

Shit! There’s people up here!  

The couple coming down off the overlook grab for their stout little corgi and her leash.  

I bet you didn’t expect to see someone else up here.  

And you ran up here…

Happy New Year!, we call as I head up and they head on down the trail.

Now that I’m here up top of Mount Wantastiquet what a perfectly wonderful place to mark the New Year. The view down across the Connecticut River on the scattering of white houses in Brattleboro below, sunlit peaks golden amidst the blue hills beyond. 

A granite marker with an aqua green plaque erected to the memory of Walter Childs by his loving friends in 1806. 

Like getting anywhere, getting up here is not easy. I remembered the rocky steep path from the last and only other time I’ve run and hiked up here on a fall morning several years ago. Today that same rocky path is a stream of melting ice covered in brown oak leaves. I remember what a friend told me about slippery oak leaves and I am extra careful along the trail. I step in numerous puddles, sink down in wet leaves, get a good foot soaking. My friends have no interest in a New Years Plunge so glad I will at least get my feet cold and wet today.  

Last night to mark New Years we pulled cards to reveal what calls and challenges lie in wait in the coming year. The “Mountain” card I drew was the habit that could stand in the way of my call for the year. I thought about that as I ran up here this morning – am I merely repeating an old habit by choosing to run up the mountain instead of along the river?

As I remember the card said something about warning the reader off of peak banging and noting that the journey of discovery was not in reaching the peak but in what happens along the way. Something about not pursuing merely achievement and perfection which feels like good advice on New Years or anytime. It was the gift of the wet, icy, leaf-covered trail slowed me to watching and appreciating every careful step. 

After my run, a visit to Centre Congregational Church in Brattleboro where three of us joined the pastor for a zoom church service. It was so nice to be there, so good to receive the gift of worshipping with a little community in person and on-line to mark the new year.  It made me just happy thinking of the church in Littleton and so many other little communities of faith gathered this New Years Day in cavernous sanctuaries of another world and time and around computer screens on kitchen tables for prayer and singing, experiencing word become flesh.  

That good quote from Ellen Goodman at the top of the bulletin which starts this post.  

So Happy New Year from the memory of a blessed day and view from the peak. In this world of treacherous trails, deep sorrow and trouble, such beauty and brokenness a call to Potential. Sounds to me like something worth stepping out into this New Year.  

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