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Visioning a Re-NEW-able Year

clock with years on it five minutes to 2021

Getty/Sergey Peterman

This year, turn to the first known resolution makers—the ancient Babylonians—for inspiration.

Flashback: It’s December 31, 1999. Flushed from dancing, I’m perched on the steps of the Hilton Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, filled with anxiety about Y2K and the chaotic world around me. Although my eyes peer out of the glittery zeros in 2000-shaped glasses, a local tells me it is 1992. Bent on educating me gently, he further informs me it’s not even the new year—those festivities happened two months ago. I was 28 years old and full of myself. Courtesy of Prince & The Revolution, I had been waiting since 1982 to “party like it’s 1999.” I was clueless about the impact of the Council of Chalcedon or the Gregorian Calendar. And I had certainly never considered that on this night, not everyone was celebrating the entrance into a new millennium. Admittedly, advancing numbers help us mark time. Calendarizing is a construct that humans use to make sense of the progression of our lives. Yet, there remains something magical about the start of a new cycle. Indeed, for over 4,000 years, our species has been making New Year’s resolutions. For over a decade, I resolved I would quit drinking. Then smoking. As I …

About the Author

Sarah Bowen

Find spiritual practices in Sarah Bowen’s book Spiritual Rebel: A Positively Addictive Guide to Finding Deeper Perspective & Higher Purpose. Explore the intersection of animals and spirituality in her forthcoming Sacred Sendoffs: An Animal Chaplain’s Advice for Surviving Animal Loss, Making Life Meaningful, & Trying to Heal the Planet. And listen to her recent podcast with Rabbi Rami.

Bowen is a multifaith spiritual educator, animal chaplain, and award-winning author. As a member of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary’s faculty, Spiritual Directors International, and several recovery communities, Bowen seeks to help others connect with the higher power of their own understanding. She’s passionate about the study of the world’s great spiritual traditions; animal welfare; and travel to quirky, spiritually charged locations. When she grows up, Bowen hopes to be a Jedi. Connect at or follow her on Instagram @modernreverend.

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