Newness (June 30)


“How endless is that volume which God hath written of the world! Every creature is a letter, every day a new page” (Joseph Hall).

OUR EVERYDAY WORLD PRESENTS US WITH UNLIMITED OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE NEWNESS. The list of new things awaiting our discovery is endless, and the supply of fresh wonders is inexhaustible. When we grow stale and tired of our lives, it’s not because we’ve exhausted the opportunities that are available to us; it’s because we’ve ceased to see the newness of each day as it comes to us.

New things are refreshing to us, of course. Even a new perspective on something old can give us fresh courage and determination. But newness is not an inherent, unqualified good. A thing is not good simply because it’s new, and we need to guard against the sort of obsession with newness that some folks seem to have. These folks want nothing but “the latest thing,” and they have no use for anything that’s old or traditional. For them, all that they need to know about something is that it’s new. But that’s an unfortunate, and even dangerous, way to live. Those who worship newness as if it were a god lose the time-tested value of many things that are no longer new, and they become guilty of what C. S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.”

That said, however, there are plenty of things that are both new and good, and it does us good to discover them. Our families and friends find us to have a more refreshing influence on them when we’re energized by the frequent discovery of things we never knew or appreciated before. We do those around us a favor when we stay fresh.

But we shouldn’t just look for new things to experience; we should also work on the renewal of ourselves. In a sense, we need to become new people each day. And that takes work. Concerning love, for example, Ursula LeGuin said, “Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”

Newness often surprises us. When we are the tiredest and we feel that everything has grown drearily old, something delightfully new can break through the gloom. Make a habit of watching for it!

“When old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart; and where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders” (Rabindranath Tagore).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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