The Constant State of New
The matter of newness came home to me the other day, quite powerfully. I was standing in line at our local natural foods co-operative here in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s been my experience in the past—and I don’t know if this is the case in most food co-ops—that a lot of the people who are there, presumably for the noble causes of improving their health and that of the environment, seem to be in a grumpy or irritable mood. Anyway, the other day I was standing in line at the co-op, just casually scanning the crowd while I was waiting to check out. And the thought came into my head, “Yep, here I am again with all the grumpy people at the food co-op.”
Almost as soon as that thought had formed, my gaze landed on a beautiful, joyful interchange between a mom and her child a couple of checkout lines over. It caused me to examine my thinking, because what I was seeing was something that wasn’t the experience of grumpiness or irritation I had come to expect. In fact, it was the opposite. That led me to think that maybe I’d been allowing my past experience at the co-op to determine my current experience!
I began to realize how little thought I’ve been giving to this subject of newness in my living. When I began to reflect on it, I remembered some wonderful verses in the Bible that give specific reference to the idea of “newness”—the New Heaven and the New Earth; pouring new wine into new bottles; “Behold! I make all things new.” These all related to something that wasn’t currently in my experience. I started wondering how something new stays new. I came to the conclusion that it’s impossible to keep something that has been made new, new. As soon as the moment in which the new is new has passed, the new becomes old—which leads me to believe that making things new is more about being in the moment and allowing what is new out of heaven to continually pour through me. In other words, as I dwell on or keep my attention focused on what has been made new, I follow it into the past, missing the opportunity the present moment affords me to make all things new.
One way to think about it is that newness isn’t an action or an event. The presence of a new heaven and a new earth is dynamic, ongoing. It isn’t a matter of establishing a new heaven and a new earth once, in which it comes one time and then it doesn’t need to come anymore. That goes against everything I know about living in the moment. The city of New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven doesn’t land today, and now the work is done. It’s the experience of every moment, the city revealing itself anew.
When we look at “new wine in new bottles” we don’t get one case of new bottles and then use them over and over…that’s the definition of old bottles. The new bottles have to constantly be available so that the new wine—which, by the way, is always new because it’s coming out of the wellspring at the center of Heaven—has a perfect place to reside. It isn’t my responsibility to create the new wine. It’s my responsibility to make sure that the bottles into which that wine flows are new and clean and transparent, so that when my world drinks that wine it is refreshed and nourished.
As I’ve been thinking about this matter of newness, I head down the path of seeing the potential for experiencing newness being based on allowing the moment, the current moment, to be empty of judgment, to be empty of crystallized thought forms and emotions. I begin to see that everything I do has the potential to be new, has the potential to be creative, if I let it be so.
I looked up the word new in the dictionary. You would think we would all know what that word means. It’s a small word, n-e-w, and I’m sure we could, each of us, come up with the accurate description. But I wanted to see the word’s origin. There are two root word listings—one in Latin and one in Greek. While naturally similar, I chose to focus on the Greek word—neos. That definition is “to be recently born.” And while that’s a simple definition, I think it is extremely profound in our consideration, because if something is recently born (new), there isn’t any valid means for comparing what that new thing is unless we attempt to compare it to something that has previously made an appearance (old). And without the ability to compare, to value or devalue, in fact to judge the thing, then any action that we take in relationship to whatever this newness is in our life must be based on the current flow of love coming through us in the moment! This, then, is something that is allowed to be clean and clear and pure, not sullied or shadowed by old patterns and old thoughts and old tapes—which in turn allows our living to be creative, to be fresh, to be nourishing.
So I would like you to take a look to your left and take a look to your right, and think about this: Based on what I’ve been sharing and based on your own thoughts about the process of “new,” the person(s) or surroundings that you just looked at are brand-new. You’ve never actually met them. You don’t even know who they are, actually, or at least you don’t know all of who they are, because since you last thought about them the earth has moved on its axis so that we’re all in a different place. The earth itself has moved in its orbit around the sun, so we’re all in a different place. The sky was different, the light patterns in our worlds are now different, there were new cells created and sloughed off in our own bodies since you last gave thought to the people and the place around you.
If what I’ve described is true, how could we ever, from this point forward, look at someone and think we know what they’re thinking and what they’re feeling and how they should act? I don’t think we can. And if we can’t make those judgments, we take that factor out of the equation; then every relationship we have is new, every relationship is pregnant with possibility, every relationship has the opportunity to be based in the current of love, as opposed to being based in old, out-of-date information.
This is true across your whole world, wherever you are. You’ve never been to that place before. So much has changed since the last time you were there, you get to experience it all anew.
I’m excited about this newness in my own living. And to the degree that what I’ve shared has touched something in you, wonderful! I appreciate the opportunity to spend this time with you all.
May 7th, 2012
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