January: the good, the bad, the confusing

I was going to write a couple of days ago but when I found out it was National Sleep Day I decided to take a nap instead. Anything to put off having to think.

January has always been a strange month for me. As a child I pictured a year—any year—as beginning about April 1 and ending shortly after New Year's Eve. Winter just didn't exist in my mind; it was three months of blankness, as though nothing could or would or ever did happen. I still think of these months as a vast emptiness sometimes, but January has one thing going for it. It's the birth month of seven friends and three relatives. Clearly, I love Capricorns.

Still, it's a month that confuses me. My heart loves the sense of newness and possibility that the new year invokes but my mind knows the changing date is an artificial construct. It's the winter solstice we should be celebrating; the return of the light and the promise of spring. That's real. Instead, we're stuck with Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. We're about 2,013 years removed from Janus worship but we still honor a seasonal, collective urge to re-evaluate and try again. It must be genetic.

My psychic friends tell me that our recent solstice marked a shift in consciousness here on earth. That now we will begin to come together, to be more compassionate, understanding, even loving. We will feel lighter and more optimistic. I can't say I feel this shift, but I pray they're right. The way things are going it's either wake up or die. Our planet is in serious danger. Our government initiates drone attacks and fights a pointless war while we bury our heads in denial. Our children are randomly murdered while reasonable measures to limit gun sales are criticized as unAmerican and unconstitutional. And Congress continues to create fake crises to hide its ineptitude.

If anyone needs new beginnings we do, but don't put your hope in Janus. It's going to take every one of us, pushing our politicians to do the right thing and pushing ourselves to admit we're responsible for what happens. We do still live in a democracy.

The "shift" of the solstice might or might not be reality. But when we consciously shift our attention to the need for change, for more compassion and understanding; when we admit that we're all in this together, we open a door to grace. My first resolution for 2013 is to try to push that door open a little wider every day. (The second is to take more naps.)

Happy New Year.