The other day a woman approached me while I stood waiting for a subway and cheerfully announced that these were our final days. Her face glowed and she smiled brightly as she informed me that this New Year's Eve would be our doomsday. She had a pile of pamphlets and urged me to take one. The pamphlet, she assured me, would tell me everything I needed to know about this glorious event and how to get ready for it. I declined her gift but couldn't resist asking her, "What will you do if the world doesn't end on that date?" She looked at me as if I'd lost my mind.
I mused about the encounter all the way to work. Thought about the folks who were prophesying that the world would end at the close of the nineteenth century when the clock struck midnight. Many had spent years anticipating the event, ordering their lives in the surety that they knew to the hour and the minute when the end would come. Some believers sold all of their worldly goods in preparation, others foreswore attachments and personal relationships. I've always wondered how these prophets of doom felt when the new year dawned and life went on. Were they disappointed? Relieved? Confused?
And then there was this woman, who like many other folk, is eagerly anticipating Armageddon at the end of this century. I wonder how they will spend this New Year's Eve, which everyone seems to have decided marks the dawn of a new millennium--even though the event doesn't actually take place this year, but next. Will it be in dread or celebration?
Frankly, the people who proclaim that the end is near give me the willies. I refuse to live my life under a cloud of doom; it seems so defeatist. While I understand that for many people it's an affirmation of their faith, my faith rests in believing that given time, all things are possible. No, I'm not a Pollyanna; I've had too many dates with depression to do perky. And like you, I'm all too aware that we've got a lot to be concerned about as we step into the twenty-first century and that the worry list continues to grow. Can we protect and restore the environment; will we really move to preserve rather than destroy the garden? We live with the threat of nuclear madness, the knowledge that war remains a constant, and the reality that there is no place safe from violence--not our homes, not our schools, not our places of worship. How do we make peace on earth? We celebrate women's progress, but we also know that as far as we may have come, we still have much farther to go. Will we press on or rest on our laurels?
Like you, I often feel weary when I think about all the issues that cry out for attention. But I know that no matter how compelling, no one of us can take them all on. Nor can we afford to neglect our own gardens. We need to make time and take time for nurturing our bodies, our minds, our spirits. In the midst of all the noise, we each need to find a quiet hour. We need to court laughter, embrace joy, kiss hope, give breath to our dreams. Let's greet tomorrow and all its problems with high hopes for the possibilities.