A New Year’s Day Reflection: 2017, Good Or Bad?

The year end reviews and assessments are underway. You can read them in the op eds and on social media. You can hear them in the conversations we share with one another and in the silence of our own hearts. Was 2017 a good year or a bad year? It depends, I guess, on who is asking and about what.

What will 2018 bring? There will be, and already are, predictions, resolutions, and prayers for the new year. Will it be good or bad?

But here’s what I wonder. Can we ever really know or say? Perhaps the best and the most we can say is, “Maybe.”

We often try to judge a moment, a day, a year as if it was all in all, but it is only a part, a fragment, of the all, a piece of the whole. Was it really good? Maybe. Was it really bad? Maybe. We don’t really know. Alan Watts makes that point with his story of the Chinese farmer.

The Story of the Chinese Farmer from Sustainable Human.
Alan Watts, Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life, p. 146

I am not suggesting that some years are not more painful or difficult than others, or that some are not happier, more exciting, or more fulfilling. Each year brings what it does. Can we just be present to that? Without making a final conclusion? I am not talking about passivity but about actively being present to what is. This means we must trust the mystery of life more than our assessment of life.

In some way to judge, label, and categorize the year as either good or bad is to fragment reality. It would be like looking at a photograph and declaring it to represent the entirety of our life rather than waiting for, watching to see, and participating in what comes next in the movie. And there will be a next, regardless of what has gone before or what we think of it. That’s the faithfulness and mystery of God. That’s what this day, January 1, the Feast of the Holy Name, is about. Our life is neither found in nor determined by its circumstances but in and by Jesus, God with us, the one whose name means God saves.

Regarding the New Year and Feast of the Holy Name


  1. Thank you. Love you and Cyndy. Happy New Year. God has blessed us and taught us so many truths about how to live, pray and just be. So thankful for this New Year and being able to thank God for our many blessings.


  2. Thank you for reminding us to look at the whole, not just a part and not label the whole by the sadness of a part. Last year brought deep grief to some but also it brought birth, anniversaries, birthdays and people reaching out with love and compassion.


    1. Yes, Beverly, life is always mixed. I know your grief has been deep and remains so. Seems we are always standing in the mystery of life and death, joy and sorrow. May God’s peace and strength be with you.


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