May I Try That One Again? The Grace of a Million Second Chances
by Rev. Teri Daily
We are just a few days away from the beginning of a new year. Ever since I was very young, I’ve always met the approaching new year with a sense of excitement, a certain anticipation. As a child and teenager such excitement centered on fireworks, celebration, and watching one year fade away while another came into focus. But as I’ve gotten older, the expectancy with which I greet the coming year has little to do with parties, or watching the ball drop in Times Square, or looking ahead to vacations that are now only a few months away. Instead, the hope that rises up in me comes from a different place–one that is both deeper and home to many mixed emotions. It is a place that longs for “do-overs.”
In so many ways, a new year signals a second chance–another trip around the sun, another run through the months, a “do-over” of sorts. I yearn for the chance to call “do-over” not just on a shot in a game of pool or on a New Year’s resolution of steady exercise gone awry. I also long to cry “do-over” on relationships with friends, family members, and colleagues; on the times when I lack the faith, devotion, or imagination to follow through on worthwhile actions; and on the many times I settle for a comfortable status quo instead of reaching for a fuller, more beautiful alternative.
Of course, we never really get the chance to go back and re-do some of the things we’d like to; in each moment of our lives we are different people, and so are those around us. But the new year does nurture the possibility that things can be different somehow, that we can respond even to what we perceive to be failures in new and life-giving ways.
For process theologians, these fresh possibilities are called initial aims–divine promptings within us that guide us along paths of forgiveness, mercy, and compassion, always drawing us toward the greatest healing, beauty, and wholeness available in each situation.
Other Christians may refer to these new possibilities as resurrection opportunities that come to us through the outstretched hand of an ever-merciful God–a God who is always inviting us to join in the ongoing co-creation of the world, to participate in the continuing work of reconciliation through which all things are being made new. Some may simply call these new possibilities “second chances,” or “do-overs.” To all of us, they are experiences of grace.
And so as we approach the new year, each with our own longings from deep within, may we walk in the joy of new opportunities, and the redemptive grace of a million second chances.
Let me live today. Let me be open to the miracle of this day. Let me breathe the best of today. Let me not miss the heart of today. Let me find the gift of today, hidden like a jewel in rubble of care, duty, and detail.
Let me pause to hear the steady beat of the heart of God– hoping, aching, sorrowing, expectant, patient, despairing heart of God.
Listen, listen. Do you hear it? ever so faint but steady, steady, rhythmic organ, strong muscle, thumping, beating, pumping, sustaining, encompassing, wildly dancing heart of God.
Let me live this day, aware, open, listening, breathing, alive.
–The Rev. Virginia Going, in Women’s Uncommon Prayers (Harrisburg: Morehouse, 2000) 24.