My New Year's Day Ritual
The month of January is named after the Roman god Janus, and his iconic image portrays a dual portrait sculpture (faces only) that adjoin back to back. One portrait bust depicts a melancholic Janus, and the other depicts a Janus with a buoyant countenance. The first visage signifies Janus’ sorrow at seeing the previous year pass by, and the second personifies Janus’ elation at welcoming the New Year. The Romans associated change, transition, and new beginnings with Janus, and they celebrated the New Near by exchanging gifts and good wishes. So important was Janus, the Romans placed his portrait above their front entrances.
In early January and just a few days after January 1, 2007, our Sunday School facilitator commenced the morning discussion by posing the following question: “Where do you encounter God?” The answers were varied: “in the scripture,” “in prayer,” “in church,” “in the laundry room” (was one housewife’s only private time for introspection), and “in friends” were some of the responses. Since our group is primarily comprised of professionals and fearing that my comment was too common, I reluctantly responded: “In my Garden.” In the past 67 years I have been encountering God in the altruistic and selfless actions and deeds performed by millions of people of different faiths across the globe, by attending to the birth of our two sons, by seeing miraculous medical healing, and by the manner in which people across the world respond to collective man-made tragedies and to natural disasters. However, it is primarily in my garden that I see the most tangible emanation of God’s greatness and mystery.
Halaby, Raouf J. Professor Emeritus, "My New Year's Day Ritual" (2013). Articles. 16.