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“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending” (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).
AT THE ENDING OF THIS YEAR, IT WOULD BE WISE FOR US TO REMEMBER THE IMPORTANCE OF ENDING WELL. The year will come to an end whether we end it wisely or not, but we will help ourselves if we think carefully about “endings.” To end well, we need a healthy combination of gratitude, humility, and optimism. We must choose to be helped by our memories rather than hindered by them.
When life’s endings approach us, especially the bigger ones that involve great change, we’re often unwilling for them to occur. We often expend great emotional effort trying to keep change from taking place. But as Hannah Hurnard wrote, “If we try to resist loss and change or to hold on to blessings and joy belonging to a past which must drop away from us, we postpone all the new blessings awaiting us on a higher level and find ourselves left in a barren, bleak winter of sorrow and loneliness.” The gifts the future wishes to place in our hands are greater than those the past has given to us, but many of us will never know. Our hands can’t receive what the future has in store if they’re still laden with the packages we’ve picked up in the past. There comes a time when we need to let go of what we’ve been holding onto so tightly and open ourselves up to new possibilities.
There is a German proverb which says, “Beginning and end shake hands with each other.” It is true: everything in life is connected to everything else. Every beginning moves toward some ending, and every ending is connected to some new beginning. The question is not whether there shall be endings and beginnings, but only what we shall do with them as they come to us. Whether our endings are proper and our new beginnings are productive is not a matter of fate or doom. Much depends upon the choices that we make. So let us use well this last day of the year, learning what we should from all that is now behind us. And tomorrow, let us release what has just ended and grasp what will then be just beginning. Let us end today in such a way that tomorrow will be our best beginning yet.
The old order changeth, yielding place to the new,
And God fulfills himself in many ways.
(Alfred, Lord Tennyson)