A New Year: Do It Again

A dear friend frequently shares a passage from G. K. Chesterton’s book Orthodoxy, which I think about often. Chesterton writes,

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.

My friend shared this in the context of a kids’ summer camp, which he directs and for which I worked. Week after week we would eat the same meals, play the same games, sing the same songs, and after so many weeks, it wasn’t hard to be exhausted at the thought of doing it all again. So about once a summer, we received this encouragement from Chesterton, to believe that God looked down at our little old corner of redwood forest with great delight, saying every week and every summer, “Do it again!”

It’s now the time of year when people often ask about goals and resolutions, plans and dreams. And this new year, many of my hopes and plans are similar to those from the last. Certainly there will be some new adventures, new places, unexpected challenges and joys. But I don’t have any big resolutions or life-altering goals. I won’t graduate or move across the country or start a new job (that I know of!). At first I felt there was some sort of problem with this lack of newness—shouldn’t I set out to do something big and daring and life-changing? Yet this year, the opportunity feels less about beginning a new journey, and more about staying faithful to the work I’ve been given. This past year has been a beautiful one, with much that was good, much that was hard, and most something in between. I wonder if perhaps God is saying, “Good work. Let’s keep at it. Do it again!”

Brother Rich and his friend Beaker wrote a song based on these words from Chesterton as well as the story of the prodigal son.

We are children no more, we have sinned and grown old
And our Father still waits and He watches down the road
To see the crying boys come running back to His arms
And be growing young
Growing young

Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to children, to those who know what it is to be safe in the arms of the Father. God calls us to approach him with the attitude of a child.

So, I think that’s my resolution for this new year: to enter each season with a childlike trust, to grow young, and to follow God’s call to do it again.