Like a good friend, January lays bare all of my own dualities: melancholy and hopeful, silly and serious, monk and marketer. January says, “Embrace it all, Daniel.”
I share this birthday month with such luminaries as Cary Grant, Oprah Winfrey, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jackie Robinson, Wayne Gretzky, and Elvis Presley. And, of course, Martin Luther King Jr., who looked out on the world through January eyes and saw bleakness and brightness.
In the midst of the civil rights struggle, King wrote,
In spite of the tensions and uncertainties of this period something profoundly meaningful is taking place. Old systems of exploitation and oppression are passing away; new systems of justice and equality are being born. In a real sense this is a great time to be alive.
This January child said,
Therefore, I am not yet discouraged about the future. Granted that the easygoing optimism of yesterday is impossible. Granted that we face a world crisis which leaves us standing so often amid the surging murmur of life’s restless sea. But every crisis has both its dangers and its opportunities. It can spell either salvation or doom. In a dark, confused world the Kingdom of God may yet reign in the hearts of men [and women].
King’s words were part of a January sermon I preached three years ago. You can read it here.
In another reflection, inspired by Janus, I wrote on entering the new year backward. You’ll find that piece here.