Virtues for a fresh start in the New Year

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, December 31, 2020

Resilience card courtesy The Virtues Project

Hasn’t 2020 been begging us, “Can’t we please start over?” Well, in a certain sense, we can. That’s why we make New Year’s resolutions.

In fact, I’ve had that longing since the beginning of our current COVID-19 pandemic with all its social and economic implications. You’ll recall that my April 16 column was about Resilience, a virtue that can transform our wounds into Compassion, Patience, Perseverance and Reverence.

That column featured the wisdom of Linda Kavelin-Popov, co-founder of The Virtues Project and author of Dreaming at the Crossroads of Change. To my delight, Linda has provided this week’s guest column to wrap up the old and begin the new. Linda?

WHAT A YEAR we have endured in 2020! At a time when one disaster followed another, we have all experienced loss – health, home, loved ones, a sense of safety, and the freedoms we took for granted just months ago. Fortunately, the human spirit has an awesome capacity for resilience, if we view our lives through the lens of virtues. According to the world’s sacred traditions, virtues are our birthright– the strengths of soul and character that are the very meaning of our lives and the fruits of the spirit.

I recall the lovely song, “It’s in every one of us to be wise. Find your heart. Open up both your eyes.”  Jesus said that “the kingdom of Heaven is within you.” (Luke 17:21) Virtues such as wisdom, love, courage, compassion, and hope are within every one of us. Entering this New Year feels like standing at a crossroads. When you look into your heart, do you envision a dream for yourself – one that satisfies your soul? For me, this process involves seeking sacred consent in order to align myself with the Creator’s will for me at any given season.

As many of us isolate at home, this time can be viewed as a holy pause to discern new possibilities. What part are we called to play at a time of unprecedented suffering? Are we moved to feed others, listen with compassion, respond to the social justice revolution with a humble posture of learning, or find our voice to speak out and to speak up for justice?  How do we lean into Grace to ride the waves of change?

If you want to make a resolution you can actually sustain, pick one virtue (see and cultivate it day by day like a tender plant. Your life will never be the same – in a good way! It’s said that when we fully develop one virtue, all the others are magnetized into our lives. Think of what it would be like to think kind thoughts, say only kind words, and do only kind things for yourself and others. Virtues are our truest guides to becoming the calm in the wind, sailing with trust and confidence into this New Year.

Linda Kavelin-Popov

THANKS, LINDA. And since I still have a long way to go, I’m making Resilience my own resolution for 2021. Here’s to a Happier New Year!


© 2020 Warren Harbeck

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