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Looking forward to look back

On Christmas Day, NASA launched the James Webb telescope, headed for a spot in orbit that is 1,000,000 miles away from earth. In six months, we will begin to receive data and images of light from the earliest galaxies in our universe – for us, the farthest look back in time so far. So, we look forward to looking back.

This coming Friday is the last day of 2021, the night before the upcoming January 1. New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day. Another time for the tradition of looking back and looking forward. January is named after the Roman god Janus, who had two faces so he could look forward and backward simultaneously. Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, frames and endings – a fitting inspiration for the first month of our year.

I have already shared this poem by the great William Stafford with my friends on Facebook and others who follow me on Lectio 360. For any of them and for the rest of you, I invite you to read this to yourself repeatedly -- maybe several times a day, or weekly for January, or monthly for 2022. Let it be your muse as you replace your 2021 calendar with a new 2022 version.

You Reading This, Be Ready

by William Stafford (1914-1993)

Starting here, what do you want to remember? How sunlight creeps along a shining floor? What scent of old wood hovers, what softened sound from outside fills the air? Will you ever bring a better gift for the world than the breathing respect that you carry wherever you go right now? Are you waiting for time to show you some better thoughts? When you turn around, starting here, lift this new glimpse that you found; carry into evening all that you want from this day. The interval you spent reading or hearing this, keep it for life— What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

Peace and love to you in the week – and year – ahead.


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