Looking forward rather than looking backwards, we find that maturity consists in focusing on the positive aspects of our lives and then dealing with the negative aspects in an effective manner.
In order to remain evergreen like the evergreen tree, we can choose the good, avoid what is evil and distance ourselves from what is not helpful. Looking back at our life experiences, we will find that our lives, whenever they have remained evergreen, was so precisely because of the difficulties and trials we have overcame and the spiritual strength that we gained.
For those of us who have learned to live with a positive attitude, our valleys have remained green because we have translated our experiences, built on our weaknesses and converted them into strengths, nurtured our souls and watered them with the life-giving water of compassion and wisdom.
With the passage of time we learn to be less harsh and judgmental with ourselves and others. We look at ourselves not through the prism of a demanding master, but through the prism of a loving, faithful and compassionate God.
As we grow older, we become more content and satisfied with what we have done so far and ready to take on other tasks and responsibilities. The wisdom and understanding that comes with age is not automatic. We have to grow intellectually, emotionally and spiritually so that we can develop a discerning mind and spirit.
Like fruit that has ripened, we mature and with the water of our imagination and enlightened soul we create for ourselves evergreen valleys. We sometimes ask ourselves the question: How green is my valley? We do not wait the moment of death to do that; we try to know the answers now.
Where does the inspiration come from? Prayer now becomes a life-giving force. In prayer we connect with the infinite and also with the community. Meditative living not only brings us face-to-face with the Divine; it permeates all aspects of our lives.
When we follow nature's course, not fighting our destiny, we are like the perennial spring that waters the earth. Then we tend to transform and transcend our diminishments, frailties, vulnerabilities and weaknesses. However, self-condemnation is so common. The guilt trips and the regrets tend to pull you down. But for those who can ask: "How green is my valley?"-there is opportunity to learn from and rectify misconceptions. We would be able to recognize several occasions when we were kind and helpful, considerate and empathetic. And the other times when we were quite withdrawn and self-centred.
As we traverse the spiritual path, there will always be crags, nooks and crannies, uneven turf and barriers, but there are also life-giving waters and springs, foliage and greenery that are ever present in the soul.
Every situation and circumstance in our life calls for an appropriate response. It is with our lifetime choices that we create either fecundity or barrenness and aridity of spirit. Struggles and hardships will perforce come our way, but they could be transformed to become instruments of peace and success.
The end of a calendar year is a good time to look back as well as prepare to look ahead, and resolve to transform past negativities to future positive opportunity that would make life more meaningful and cheerful rather than full of guilt, regrets and resentments.
A new beginning brings with it a freshness that's hard to ignore as it brings with it fresh hope and the promise of bright days ahead.