Saturday, December 29, 2007

Thoughts for a New Year

“The Brain that Changes itself” … the title of a book dealing with brain plasticity – keeping the brain functional and fresh.

One of the pieces of brain plasticity is moving out of our comfort zones – to branch out, delve into something new, experiment and challenge ourselves.

I’ve been thinking about comfort zones – prisons actually and alluring. One of the most tempting prisons is called Yesterday! The older we grow, the bigger Yesterday becomes, and the more power it exerts over us.

It could be as simple as an unkindness someone did to us, and we can’t shake it. We relive the experience and recall the hurt a thousands times a year. As painful as it may be, it’s one of our comfort zones – we know it well, and within it, we live and have our being, so to speak.

Perhaps it’s our success at age of 55, and from that point on, our children and grandchildren have to hear our “war stories,” the same old jokes and tired platitudes.

Religiously, it might be a conversion story: retelling the same story, with a few embellishments added over the years, forges another chain in a prison called Yesterday.

Many years ago, I vowed: “When I become an older pastor, I will never say to a younger pastor, ‘When I was your age…’.”

Several year ago, I officiated at a funeral for a dynamic woman who lived well into her 90s; one of her favorite sayings: “Was was and is is!” Though confined to bed in her latter years, she remained bright and eager, whispering last words to her son, “Oh, how I want to live.”

Yesterday beckons us with its comfort, but life remains ahead of us – “Come and follow me,” said Jesus, to new horizons and daring ventures. Leave you nets and boats where they belong, travel light with me, and I’ll show you the world.

Stay fresh with Christ … “set your hand to the plow and don’t look back” … keep the brain agile … travel unexplored roads, find a new restaurant, brush your teeth with the opposite hand, make new friends, clean out a closet and get rid of some stuff. Give thanks for Yesterday, but keep on walking and greet tomorrow! Happy New Year!