Old long since.
It’s the literal meaning of auld lang syne, the famous refrain from Robert Burns well-known poem of the same title.
He says he got the poem from an old man, and condensed it into its present form. But he thought it was a memorable line. And so, apparently does everyone else. It’s the most recognizable line of the New Year other than Happy New Year itself.
The invitation, of course, is to remember. And so I shall.
I remember our trip to Argentina, for example. The missions conference in Uruguay and then the happy stay, alone with Katie, in Santa Rosa near the mountains west of Cordoba. I remember the sense of finding my voice, working on the Nicholas project. And the parakeets outside the window. I remember mate with friends and asado with strangers. I remember looking forward to doing it all over again.
I remember coming home and trying to slow down. Or at least thinking about it, sitting on the porch in spring, sipping tea and reading about being married and being glad I was. The porch itself became a symbol of living and learning, of listening and loving—a place to find oneself and share oneself at the same time.
I remember the loss of our friend Daniel too. It was May then. And our grief, and his family’s grief, and his friends’ grief was very great, as it should be and still is. I remember the hands and the feet of the church, coming together in this moment of tragedy. Now and then his memory breaks through again, in a photo on the church website or the shadow of his devotion cast against the promise of his brothers and other earnest young men who want to know and serve Christ.
And there were the weddings: Alexa and Manny, Scott and Lida, Zach and Betsy, Rob and Lindy, Tina and Kyle. People find a wedding homily I posted by searching for one of their own, and a wedding review in November was the most read ever: 363 page views. I wrote about marriage a lot this year.
I read about it even more. Katie and I read John Piper’s book This Momentary Marriage, together or with others, six times. I have a lot to learn about being a grandfather. And I still have a lot to learn about being a husband. But it was a good year for learning. And for remembering.
So tonight, the house is quiet. Our kids and grandkids are all here or have been for the holidays. Tonight the parents celebrate. The kids sleep. There is a rare silence. But it is filled with hope.
There will be laughter tomorrow as they prepare to leave. A book to read to small children and a cup of tea with older ones. Maybe I will read to them too.
But regardless, I will remember: failures of my own and grace large enough to cover them.
A new year begins, with memories of its own.