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A happy, healthy, and pleasant New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to all. Ms. Anne Thrope’s is creating specialties for sober rides and drivers.

My friend Richard Morgan, who writes a blog titled View from 80, noted: “God works through ‘cracked pots’ to create beauty on the tables of the world. “ He referred to some people whose culture identified them as “cracked pots”– Vincent Van Gogh, Ludwig von Beethoven, and Nelson Mandela. Morgan’s examples were once branded as not very practical. They went against cultural expectation and tradition. Some critics identified them simply as crazy. Today we remember and honor these extraordinarily gifted individuals and pray that others will offer their creative gifts to the world in the ways that Van Gogh, Beethoven, and Mandela did.

Richard’s post reminded me of a passage in the biblical book of 2 Corinthians: “…we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us” (2 Cor. 4:7).

Human beings are fragile clay vessels, and sometimes we become broken bits of clay. So much in the world wants to stamp us into a particular shape and thus make each of us wonderful individuals into a set of mass-produced and easily-managed conformists. Those efforts to make us conform to someone else’s vision can damage us. Instead of revealing the treasure within ourselves, we become stunted. We hide our gifts and our true selves for fear that we will lose what remains of ourselves. A variety of corporate shills assault us with the politics of fear, trying to set one group of people against any other group. No matter the perspective, someone is trying hard to stir fear within us, and that fear may become the force that causes us first to conform and then to break. We are not to live with such fear.

I stopped making resolutions centuries ago because the resolutions were always the same and seldom accomplished. I do set expectations for myself. For 2014 I invite you to join in my expectations:

1)   to ask who gains from the fear-mongering and who remains oppressed and to ask questions about the real purpose of the fear rhetoric;

2)   to seek the commonweal (the public good) for all.

A toast to the movement of 2013 into 2014:

May your regrets be discarded with the junk mail, may you celebrate the wonder of friends and family, and may love be visible in all that you do.

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