Today is the first day of …
Today is, for many, the first day of the work week. It is the first day of the first full week of Olympic events in the Rio 2016 Olympics. For a few, yesterday was the end of the Olympics. It was the fifteenth appearance of two sisters playing tennis and regretfully, was also their last for this Olympiad. The day on the calendar is more than just twenty-four hours. Just as there are different calendars, there are different ways to live a day.
Calendars are organizational tools and the church calendar is no different. The Roman calendar eventually had twelve months in it, an evolution of other calendars tried throughout the history of the Roman Empire. The Hebrew calendar has thirteen months in it. The difference between the two is that the Roman calendar was based on the sun while the Hebrew calendar was based on the moon. If one assumes a month is four weeks long, then a year of 52 weeks divides into thirteen months very easily. Of course, the year being 365 days means that those 52 weeks are not going to encompass all the days. That is why some months on the Roman calendar were longer than others and the decision of which months were longer was often based on politics.
The Church calendar, the calendar I use for divisions of topics for this blog, is based upon both the Roman and Hebrew calendars. It relies on changes in both the moon and the sun. Christmas, the date of December 25th, was determined based on the Winter Solstice. During the earliest years of the Church, it occurred on December 25th. It was considered the birth of the sun because, after the Winter Solstice, the days grow longer and the sun would appear to ancient man to grow. For the early Christian Church, a group of Jewish believers who recognized the man known as Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah and Christ, the son of God, the symbolism between the natural “sun” and the religious “son” was too good to ignore. In more modern times the date of the Winter Solstice occurs between December 21-23 but is now beginning to move earlier to include December 20th. Christmas, however, has remained a fixed date on December 25th.
There are remnants of the Hebrew calendar still evident in the modern calendar, however. Easter is not a fixed date and changes every year. The date for Easter is based upon the phases of the moon. Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon of the Spring Vernal Equinox or Spring Solstice. The Jewish festival of Passover is also celebrated during this time.
Advent is the season on the church calendar that precedes Christmas. It is the first season of the calendar and the name of it means “coming”. It may seem a contradiction in terms since most people think of Advent as the season in which we prepare for the coming of Jesus and his birth at Christmas but Advent is the season which is most closely related to the Hebrew people. It is during Advent that we recognize and remember with our own Advent rituals the yearning of the Jewish people as they awaited their promised Messiah.
Not everyone who reads this blog is either Jewish or Christian and I am very grateful for that. This has theological overtones as well as spiritual discussions but I hope it reflects the universality of the human race. Not all of my closest friends have had the same religious affiliation that I do and some have had none at all. I firmly and decidedly believe that such affiliations do not make us good people. That is determined by how we live, how we treat others.
We all have our own uniqueness but we also all have a great deal in common. I think we can all think of some time in our life where we needed help; maybe even a time when we really, really needed help. It is those moments of request, earnest and heartfelt requesting that unites us. We all get hungry, cold, scared, and even sick. We also all are born with the ability to experience happiness and joy. Regretfully, while we all experience the conditions of need, not everyone gets a chance to experience the conditions of positive emotion.
Today is the first day of life for newborn babies born this day. It will also be the dawning of a new age for many. They will undertake new challenges, scale new heights if possible, develop new strategies which will benefit all mankind. For others, today will simply be the passing of time, another twenty-four hours exactly like that last. Those people have become complacent in defining their living as simply “chores and bores”. We might even ask if this is indeed living.
Today is your chance to put a smile on the face of someone. It is a day full of twenty-four hours of potential. The late photographer and makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin recognized that each of us has the power to make today the best day of our lives. “Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.”
Today really is the first day of the rest of your life. I hope you embrace it and all the potential it offers. You can make today go from ordinary to extraordinary by embracing your life and its potential. Today I hope you chose life.