I admit it, I’m a sucker for the New Year. While intellectually understanding that numbers on a calendar are essentially a randomly generated form of organization (when it started, how many days per month, etc.), I also can’t help but take advantage of the feeling of newness and enthusiasm that overtakes me when it’s all about to start over again.
For Christmas my oldest daughter gave me a wonderful little book of quotes called The Essential Wisdom of the Saints, edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi. I have added it to my fantastically tall stack of books I’m in the middle of, and I enjoy tasty tidbits here and there.
I read this list by St. John Bosco a few days ago:
- “I will take no unnecessary walks.
- I will make exactingly careful use of my time.
- When the salvation of souls is at stake I will always be ready to act, to suffer, and to humble myself.
- May the charity and gentleness of St. Francis de Sales inform my every action.
- I will always be content with the food set before me unless it is really harmful to my health.
- I will always add water to my wine and drink it only for reasons of health.
- Since work is a powerful weapon against the enemies of my salvation I will take only five hours sleep a night. During the day, especially after dinner, I will take no rest, except in case of illness.
- Every day I will devote some time to meditation and spiritual reading.
- During the day I will make a short visit, or at least a prayer, to the Blessed Sacrament. My preparation for Mass shall last at least a quarter of an hour and so shall my thanksgiving.
- Outside the confessional and save in cases of strict necessity I will never stop to talk to women.”
An interesting collection of personal promises, to say the least.
Being as we are in smelling-the-breath proximity to the beginning of 2013, I wrote that day a heading in my spiritual workbook, “New Year’s Promises for the Year of 2013.”
I was stumped. “Exercise every day.” “Eat lots of veggies.” “Spend quality time with each child each day.” Etc. Lots of directives that I already strive for. Is it really going to help me to lay down specific details and bind myself to them with a solemn vow?
This morning I came up with a short list that I intend to embrace fully, body-mind-soul:
- invite Spirit
- see Love
- embrace Peace
- cultivate Understanding
My plate is full.