So have you made some? You know what I mean. Have you made some New Year’s resolutions? Something about January and the need to change the number when we write the date that drives us to make bold declarations about how we are going to amend our lives for the next 365 days. Chances are you are a much better person than I am, but I was never very good at keeping New Year’s resolutions. For years I made the one about losing some weight — a lot of weight actually. Not much success there. And then there is the one about getting more exercise. There are cobwebs on the spokes of my bike.
It isn’t like these are not laudable goals: I could stand to lose a few pounds and riding my bike would be a good way to do it. It isn’t something detestable like eating more Brussels sprouts; I like riding my bike. Spontaneously saying on a lovely Arizona winter day, “I think I’ll take a little ride” works just fine. But when I elevate it to the status of New Year’s resolution, I suppose my rebellious nature rises and I end up not doing something that I enjoy and would be good for me because ... see the problem?
I’m taking a different approach this year. I am focusing on the small stuff instead of making some grand goal that I will no doubt fail to reach. My “little stuff” resolution has absolutely nothing to do with what year it is; little stuff is a daily challenge that is quite easily met.
Born in England in 1881, Edgar Guest moved to Detroit at the age of 10. He began working as a copy boy for the Detroit Free Press, and then became a reporter. Later, he would host a local radio show, and then a television show on NBC in the early 1950s. He was a prolific poet who was often derided for being sentimental an overly optimistic, but his poetry was immensely popular, appearing in such publications as The Reader’s Digest. He was dubbed, “The People’s Poet” and to this day is the only person given the title of Poet Laureate of Michigan. Here is Guest’s, “Prayer for Strength and Wisdom.”
Grant me the strength from day to day
To bear what burdens come my way.
Grant me throughout this bright New Year
More to endure and less to fear.
Help me live that I may be
From spite and petty malice free.
Let me not bitterly complain
When cherished hopes of mine prove vain,
Or spoil with deeds of hate and rage
Some fair tomorrow’s spotless page.
Lord, as the days shall come and go
In courage let me stronger grow.
Lord, as the New Year dawns today
Help me to put my faults away.
Let me be big in little things;
Grant me the joy which friendship brings.
Keep me from selfishness and spite;
Let me be wise in what is right.
A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye.
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I’ve played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.
Happy New Year, Ahwatukee.
• Steve Hammer is the pastor at Esperanza Lutheran Church in Ahwatukee Foothills.