The derivation of the word ‘January’ is interesting. It comes from the Latin januarius which, in turn, may be related to the word for a door, ianua, or the Roman God Janus, the god of transitions and beginnings; his two faces look back into the past and ahead to the future. So this month is a door, a time to look backwards and forwards. It’s a time of change.
It brings to mind the tennis player, Andy Murray, who announced recently that he might retire this year after many months struggling to recover from a hip injury. To stop doing the one thing you’ve devoted your life to, the thing that’s been the single focus of all your dreams and strength – that’s a heart-breaking change. So is adjusting your sense of self: if I’m no longer this person who does this, then who am I?
But change – thrust upon us or chosen - can also be glorious and liberating. Years ago I got to know a Buddhist nun. She was brought up as a Roman Catholic, and had a fairly conventional life. She married, she became a teacher – but she never felt entirely content or in the right place. So she began to study Buddhism and eventually decided that the path she’d been searching for was to become a nun. She didn’t tell her pupils at school until the day after she’d been ordained: she simply appeared in the class in her maroon and yellow robes, her long, luxurious auburn hair shaved off, and a smile on her face. And her new life began.
Unchanging God, who is in all changes and turnings, guide us in unknown places. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.