Today is New Year’s Day which means if you stand downwind of the Southern US, you will breathe in the aromas of black eyed peas and greens as they simmer on stove tops. For as long as I can remember, we have eaten both sources of sustenance on New Year’s Day to symbolize our hope for good fortune and prosperity in the year ahead.
Having worked in the fields of education, human services, and nonprofit management for most of my career, I quickly gave up on the notion of financial fortune years ago. There is something to this Southern tradition, however, that inspires me to consider other forms of prosperity for the year ahead and what it means for my life and wellbeing.
Last night, I volunteered for the first shift at the youth lock-in at our church. For six hours, I watched teens from different walks of life spend time playing games, laughing together, and strengthening friendships. And who knew that that two 40-something-year-old moms could Just Dance with the best of them. (I’m sure that video will NOT go viral on YouTube!)
At 11:30, we all settled into the peace of the candlelit sanctuary for the Watch Night service. As each of us lit our single candles, I took a moment to look around at the faces of our youth. Their eyes glimmered with hope and anticipation of entering into a new beginning. I felt blessed to be a part of this sacred moment, sharing in their expectation of what 2014 might bring, not only in their personal lives but in their spiritual lives as well.
By hanging out with the teens of our church last night, I was reminded that wealth comes in all shapes and sizes. It is the gift of friendship that allows you to be whoever you are without judgment. It is the gift of leisure that rejuvenates your body and soul. It is the gift of spiritual connection that reminds you that you are filled with light and love.
So as I partake of my peas and greens today, I will express gratitude for these gifts that bring with them good fortune: friendship, faith, laughter, and relaxation. May we all be filled with such bounty and blessing in the year to come.