The wonderful thing about new beginnings is that it’s the start. It’s the place where our choice meets our action and something shifts.
John O’Donohue tells the story of an Irish neighbour who had just lifted the top layer of a field ready to start digging out the foundations for his new home. An old man from the village passed by and blessed his work, exclaiming “you have the worst of it behind you!“ “But I’ve only just begun“ replied his friend. “That’s what I mean“ said the old man. “You have begun; and to make a real beginning is the most difficult act.“ (from Benedictus – a book of blessings)
We can be in such a hurry to get there, to the end. As if finishing is what it’s all about. But, the kind of new beginning we’ve been talking about recently is more about becoming than arriving.
Another way of thinking about this is ‘emergence’, which conveys a sense of organic unfolding. Opening the possibility that things change along the way. Being comfortable about not being in control, because it allows other things to grow and emerge. Things we might not have planned for but which will have lasting fruitfulness.
This sense of flow and connection was picked up in our First Fridays at The Waterside conversation yesterday about naming the years. One of our number chose the word ‘continuance’ and as we explored it further, the richness of this sense became clearer.
It is different from the relentlessness of just continuing, keeping going. It also suggests wider connections, of being part of something bigger, with a historical and environmental context. The humility of laying aside our individualism and embracing visible and invisible relationships, and interdependencies. A larger unfolding.
So our new beginnings aren’t just about us and our efforts. Or how quickly we can get to the finish line. Instead, it’s an invitation to keep putting one foot in front of the other and enjoy the walk, including appreciating who we are walking with.
Thanks for your company
I hope you enjoyed the mixture of posts over the holiday period. Today I also picked up Catherine Drea’s post – Foxglove Lane – where she talked about her practice of naming the years! Catherine is a photographer and writer from County Waterford and her work is beautiful.