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Ending a Year, Beginning Another

“When it’s dark enough, you can see the stars”. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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We’ve reached the twelfth month of yet another year. But this isn’t just any year. It’s a year that has shaken us all so violently that many of us still feel dazed. It’s a year in which horror and tragedy have forever changed the way we see our world and ourselves.

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As we get on with our work, our responsibilities and our lives, we continue to wear the events of this year like an overcoat that the increasingly chilly weather prevents us from removing.

Reading the papers and watching the news doesn’t make it any easier … terrorism, war and the economy.

How do we start a new year with the frost from the last still chilling our bones? Where do we get the energy and the enthusiasm to keep moving forward? How do we know that next year will be better?

We don’t.That’s what starting a new year is all about. That’s what being human is all about. We don’t know. We’ll never know. All we can do is have the courage to prevail.

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Courage — it’s not a rare commodity granted to only the bravest among us. Courage is available to us all. It is in us all, waiting to be drawn upon.

Albert Camu described this courage as the "invincible summer" — a strength, a force we discover within us when faced with tragedy or extreme difficulties.

Author Mignon McLaughlin tells us that, "The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next."

And so must we end our year and begin another, doing the best we can, being the best we can one moment at a time.

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This self-knowledge will see us through next year and the years after that, no matter what they bring. For once we understand that we cannot control the world, only our reaction to it, then will we find all the courage and strength we need.

Yet, I find I cannot end this without coming back to where it started — with Emerson’s "stars."

The past few months have proven how true his words are. In all the blackness of recent events, we’ve been the fortunate witnesses to infinite acts of heroism, bravery, spirit, humanity, compassion, generosity, sacrifice and patriotism.

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We must never stop being grateful for seeing those stars, for experiencing the very best of this country — the enduring goodness and strength of its citizens.

With gratitude, strength and courage — how better to end a year? And what more fitting way to begin another.

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