Beside you in the new

Beside you in the new

We’ve come to the end.

We’ve come to the beginning.

We’ve come to the moment that sends us backward and forward like spiritual seesaws.

Starlight is leading us gently to the edge of the year. The world feels more expansive as the air thins and the calendar page flutters towards New.

New. “New” flirts with our hopes and our pride, our greed and our goodness and the grace that binds our wounds and binds us together in golden ribbon, even when we feel like the forgotten gift behind the sofa. Especially then.

“New” can feel like a promise too big to bite into, an everlasting gobstopper of everything we dream of.

“New” can knock us out or knock us over or knock tenderly on our door, precisely on time.

“New” can feel an awful lot like “ideal,” which is an awful lot to ask of a year or a self.

I don’t know about you (yes I do – you and me, we’re made of the same soot and starlight), but some years, I’m inclined to ask too much and too little of “New” all at once:

This will be the year we get it right.

This will be the year we finally “get” each other and get gotten.

This will be the year Tabby’s Place raises enough money to save all the cats.

This will be the year we heal all the wounds.

This will be the year the merciful are blessed.

This will be the year we look each other in the tearstained eyes, see all the way down to bedrock humanity, and love like we’ve never loved before.

Or perhaps this will just be a year.

It wasn’t a perfect year that brought us Boobalah, that bumbling genius of a diaper-dodging striped saint. It was just a year, smudged and sad and breathtaking and brilliant.

It wasn’t the ultimate year that brought us Timmy, a soul-mending song of a sheltering sprite disguised as an unusually handsome brown tabby. (Let the reader understand: there is not a brown tabby alive who is not “unusually handsome.” But there’s “unusually handsome,” and then there’s “unusually handsome.” I know you know what I mean.) It was just a year, with dirty streets and shining supermoons and worn out shoes and strawberry ice cream.

It wasn’t The Year To End All Fears that brought us Faith, that mirth-motored Magnificat of a Lebanese life force. It was just a year, tacked together with concrete and chenille and stucco and velveteen.

It wasn’t The Year That Fixed The Other Years that brought us Elliot, all ears and attitude and exasperating exuberance; or Nemo, the red dwarf with a soul full of galaxies; or Pearl, debatably the single individual so precious, she time-traveled back to 1937 and personally inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to coin the phrase “my precious.”

(While hanging out in the imperfect, excellent year that was 1937, Pearl also wrote this letter: “Dear Mr. Tolkien: I have reviewed your manuscript and believe it has exceptional potential. However, the publisher and I believe the title ‘The Hobbit’ is lacking a certain je ne sais quoi, and would urge you to consider calling it instead ‘Gandalf And The Guys.’”)

Toddling, tumbling, trembling 2021 was just a year, not an answer to 2020’s cavernous questions, not a taut ribbon lassoing loose ends or a satisfying coda to a confusing symphony.

The symphony is still confusing.

The symphony is still fusing metals and mysteries and miracles into our lives.

The symphony is ours to celebrate or pout about.

The symphony is ever new.

But the music of 2022 is already audible across the next green hill, and I hope you’ll scamper along with me. We’re all soft, small woodland creatures under a great big sky, but at least, at Tabby’s Place, we have the eyes to see and ears to hear the love that leads our littleness ever onward.

The New is near. The New will be as imperfect and inscrutable and grace-maced and glorious as the old. The love is ever-present. I’m grateful to have you beside me as we turn the page. Happy New Year, kittens.

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