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Labour pains for 2012

January 2, 2012
The neighbourhood diner was packed after Mass on January 1st. Some patrons came to celebrate the New Year, while others were seeking a greasy antidote to their rough morning.
As my friends and I waited for our brunch, I asked them whether they were looking forward to 2012. They all shrugged. One dismissed January 1st as just another day — forgetting, it seems, his revelry as the clock struck midnight. For many others, though, welcoming a new year feels hugely significant.
A poll on CNN.com asked readers how they felt about 2011. Only 15% said they will miss it, while 85% voted “good riddance”.
It would be interesting to know why the results were so negative. Are we simply eager to live in the present and embrace the “new”? Or do most of us feel 2011 was truly a dreadful year? Indeed, Time magazine’s list of top 10 world news stories is dominated by death: famine in the horn of Africa, disaster in Japan, unrest in the Middle East, and the list goes on. For these reasons, and our own personal ones, we’ve been anxious to turn the page.
2012 couldn't come soon enough for a friend of mine whose year ended with a painful break-up. New Year's Eve was such an important turning point that, instead of attending a party, she went to a midnight Mass to be with Jesus. For her, Christmas and New Year's were parallel events. Just as we anticipated Jesus' coming in Advent, so too we have been in "labour pains" (Romans 8:22) awaiting the birth of a new creation -- the coming of Christ in the world, and in our lives.
For those who counted themselves among the 85%, time will tell whether their optimism will be fulfilled with a better 2012. The expectations of my friend, though, are grounded in a Christian hope that cannot disappoint.
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Credit: CNS photo/Romeo Ranoco, Reuters