“Nizhónígo Nináánááhai Dooleeł!” (Happy New Year!)
October (Ghąąjį́’) is the beginning of the Navajo New Year. The Fall (Aak’ei) Season is a time of harvest, preparing for the coming winter, and a time of reflection. It is a time for us to appreciate the richness around us as we anticipate the hardships that winter will bring. The direction that represents this season is East, which speaks of dawn, birth, a new beginning of each day, the beginning of the Cycle of Seasons. The color for this direction is white, represented by the white shell.
During this season, it is a time for visualizing and goal setting for the coming year, creativity, developing ideas, and being innovative. The five regions of the Navajo Nation celebrate this time with fairs and festivals. Shiprock is celebrating their 106th Annual Northern Navajo Nation Fair this week!
I realize that we all schedule our lives using a Gregorian calendar, which would dictate that the New Year’s Celebration is in the Winter on January 1st (thanks to Julius Caesar and the Roman god Janus). And, of course, we’re all familiar with the traditional Western practice of making New Year’s Resolutions (that get broken within a couple of weeks!); however, if you’re like me, your New Year’s Resolution is to not make any resolutions.
Many tribes throughout North America traditionally observe the New Year in the Spring time. And celebrating the New Year in the Fall (as the Navajo do) is the Trifecta. Personally, Tuggy & I celebrate the New Year with a sunrise service that includes songs, prayer, praise, and worship of the Creator. Actually, the truth of the matter is, I look for any reason to celebrate life!
Regardless of when you celebrate the New Year, I believe the real point is taking the time to reflect on your life. And certainly, as believers in Jesus, it’s an opportunity for us to follow Paul’s admonition to “examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
As you take the time to reflect on your life, you can begin by asking yourself some of these questions: Do people see Jesus in me (2 Corinthians 13:5)? Am I living by faith rather than sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)? Am I living in alignment with God’s heart and mind for the purpose of my life (Romans 12:2)? If I am not experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promised (John 10:10), what changes do I need to make in my thinking, beliefs and behaviors?
This new season brings about tremendous change for Tuggy and me as I take on the role as President of NMI. In the past four decades of ministry I have been involved in quite a few upstart ventures and have served in roles for implementing change. I look forward, with great anticipation, to serving in this new role as President of NMI. As I envision serving in this capacity, it causes me to reflect on how King Solomon felt when he was assuming his new role as a servant leader over a great nation.
I’m immediately drawn to and identify with his prayer to God: “I’m too young for this, a mere child! I don’t know the ropes, hardly know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of the people you’ve chosen, a great people – far too many to ever count. Here’s what I want: give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?” (1 Kings 3:7-9, The Message)
Regardless of what season you are experiencing in your life, remember that God is still in control, His grace is sufficient, and He speaks to each one of us: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, ‘they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, New Living Translation).
Raymond Dunton – President, NMI
PS: Hey – “Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day” on Monday, October 9th!