Monday, February 21, 2011

Good Beginnings and Great New Starts

So, a new year is under way, and a new decade. Or did the new decade start last year? Regardless, it’s a time to look over our shoulder for a moment before marching boldly forward. With the fresh calendar page, we have a chance to clean the slate, grab a new piece of chalk, and begin to create something really great (with our erasers handy when we change our minds).

I’ve been thinking back on the great places and situations that gave me my start. I grew up with a Mom who refused to buy into the idea of a “broken home” and instead did everything possible to give me and my sister a firm foundation to carry us along in life. Our little town encouraged us with an emphasis on churches, schools, parks, concerts, parades. All of the things that make for a rich and happy childhood. We took advantage of everything that was free or affordable with a little planning and saving, and can now spend hours regaling anyone who wants to sit still long enough with countless happy tales.

After moving to Arkansas, I happened into a great place to spend my senior year of high school. At a recent reunion, I realized that Bryant was a good place for a great start in our adult lives. Attending school in a time before corporal punishment ended, we learned that life wasn’t always fair or easy, but together, we could survive and thrive. Our boundaries were clear, and consequences certain. We seemed to have emerged with a “can-do” spirit that still exists. There’s not a lot of “Why-me?”s heard in this group. It’s more often “Why not?” We don’t have a whole lot of famous or wealthy alums, but we certainly have some of the friendliest and most hard-working.

It’s probably no secret that each week of my life has a good beginning. I spend an hour or so on the first day worshipping with like minded people. The strength and happiness this provides cannot be measured. I understand those who say that they haven’t found a group where they “fit in”, but my answer is to keep trying. The process of taking the focus off of yourself and expressing thanks to the Source of your daily blessings seems to me to be the best way to prepare for the trials of the week to come.

Along those lines, our little congregation in Paron is making a very big new start this year. A new minister hopes to energize and motivate us to continue the good work that has been happening in that community for almost a hundred years. His name is in fact, Christmas. Very appropriate since that celebration commemorates the very best new beginning in the history of mankind.

Even our favorite college football team is getting in the happy New Start mode. For the first time in a very long time, we are close enough to the top of the polls to be listed among contenders for a National Championship. Our team will be celebrating the New Year a few days late in New Orleans, which is currently the center of a rebounding economy on the Gulf. It feels good to feel so good, for Razorback fans, and for residents of the Big Easy.

So what will you do with your fresh start? Are you full of hopeful plans for 2011? If not, take a look back to see what you can draw on from your past. Do you have a firm starting place by virtue of a good upbringing? If not, look around for someone you know who does. Talk to them about the source of their strength. They’ll most likely be glad to share, and may even steer you toward someone who can help.
This past summer, a Florida rainstorm trapped my grandson and me on a Disney ride with an annoying, but catchy song. It still populates our heads now and then, reminding us that “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, just a dream away!” Hope 2011 brings lots of great beginnings for you and yours.

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