The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a great time for reviewing and appraising the ending year in preparation for the new year that’s set to begin, and for many years I’ve used it for just that. Clearing my desktop, purging files and lists, and preparing a fresh journal have been the heart of the week’s ritual for me, couched in a generous cushion of solitude and silence. I’ve been better at it some years than others, but I’ve seldom failed to do it in some way. And there has almost always been some poem or prose musing to help. This year, it’s a piece by theologian, educator, and civil-rights leader Howard Thurman. It reminds me not to spend much time with the detritus of last year’s growth but to look for the seeds of what will be, the growing edge of what will ripen and fruit in the coming season of life. It’s a particularly good message for me now, on the threshold of the first new year I’ll welcome since retirement, as I look ahead to a radically new set of opportunities and possibilities. Here’s what Thurman wrote:
“Look well to the growing edge! All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of the child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!”
“Look well to the growing edge.” It’s a message for all of us to ponder.