A Little Fable for New Year's Day

January 1, 2017

There’s dread in the air as we journey into this New Year, a feeling that we’ve somehow taken a wrong turn and we can’t go back. We tell disturbing rumors to each other about the country we’re approaching. We talk about the way people there treat each other, and the bad smell of their cities. We can’t go back, we can’t turn around. In the back seat the children are worried, hearing us talk. They’re afraid something bad is going to happen.

rainbowWe wake up. It’s New Year’s Day. It was just a dream. The day is bright as yesterday and everything seems okay. But the dream lingers in our conversations. Was it an omen, a sign of what’s coming?

Someone opens a book and reads to us.

“Humans,” it says, “are capable of just about anything, from the worst abominations to the most beautiful love. They delight in their uniqueness, but it makes them headstrong. They think they own the place. And even then they want more of everything. They take from each other and don’t give back. They fight each other for more, they even kill each other. It’s a big problem.”

Someone interrupts. “Does it say anything about hope? Is there any hope for us?”

“Let’s see,” the reader says. She skips ahead. “Maybe here, this might be good…”

She reads, “Love is the active principle of evolution — love in the sense of absolute openness for each and every thing. Love is the Life of God, this great, ungraspable energy of the One that pervades all creation and acts as the driving force. It reveals itself in the allurement that is gravity. It reveals itself in the readiness of an atom to bind itself with another atom in the form of a molecule, and in the readiness of molecules to jointly create a cell, and in the readiness of cells to become a greater organism. This readiness for self-transcendence appears throughout the cosmos. It is the driving force of life and evolution. Love. Only those who can maintain their identity while simultaneously transcending themselves in unity with others have a chance of survival in the process of evolution.” [1]

The reader stops. “Does that help?” she asks.

We look at each other. We see something we hadn’t seen before. The dread we felt is less now. We know the selfishness and fear of our species surrounds us and infects even our own hearts, but now we feel something else, something strong, steady, and beautiful. We know this feeling.

It is a readiness. We take each other’s hands. The children come out to join us.

Someone starts singing this song, and we all join in —

Step by step the longest march, can be won, can be won.
Many stones do form an arch, singly none, singly none.
And by union what we will, shall be accomplished still,
Drops of water turn the mill, singly none, singly none.


[1] Adapted from the writings of Willigis Jager.