I Have been a scoutmaster for thirty-five years and I have, for as long as I can remember, started each year with the same Scoutmaster’s Minute. I love this one because it is so appropriate for the new year.

It’s about one of my very favorite movies. The musical version of Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol. Its called “Scrooge” and stars Albert Finney. My favorite part in the movie comes when Scrooge wakes up in his bed after having seen all the ghosts. The last ghost showed him his death and the “ponderous chain” that he had forged in life through his despicable deeds and now must wear in death for eternity. Scrooge wakes up scared to death. His blanket is wrapped around his neck and shoulders exactly like the chain had been wrapped around him in the dream.

Scrooge can’t believe he is alive. And he’s not sure what has happened. But he is elated to find that it is Christmas Day and he hasn’t missed it. And what he says next, in word and song, is the subject of this Scoutmaster’s Minute. Here is what he said.

“Perhaps it didn’t happen. Perhaps it did. But I’m alive. I’ve got the chance to change…..and I will not be the man I was. I’ll begin again. I will build my life. I will live to know that I have fulfilled my life. I’ll begin today. Throw away the past. And the life I will build will be something that will last.

I will take the time I have left to live, I will give it all that I have left to give. I will live my days for my fellow man and I live in praise of that moment when…..I was able to begin again.

I will start anew. I will make amends. I will make quite certain that this story ends on a note of hope. On a strong amen. I will thank the world and remember when…..I was able to begin…….again.”

For whatever reason, Scrooge decided that he could start over and lead a more productive life. A life that was focused on helping others rather than gratifying his own wants and needs.

That same thing happens for us at the time of each new year. That is the time we think about :new years resolutions” and making changes in our lives. I’m doing that too.

I want to be a better scoutmaster. I want to be a more compassionate friend. I want to read some books that I have been meaning to read. I want to visit some people that I haven’t seen in a while. I want to go to a museum, hoping to be inspired to paint a picture or draw something. I love to do that but often claim to be too tired to be artistic. I want to give some of my art to my friends. That always makes me feel great, to give something that is a part of myself to others. I haven’t done that very often. I want to write more birthday cards and thank you notes. I want to be there for friends in need. I want to smile more and gripe less. I want to see God in the sunrise and stop to notice the flowers and the falling leaves. I want to pause and reflect on the gift of the friends I have had and the blessings of the new friends I am making. I’m glad for this time to reflect on the time I have left and, like Scrooge, make the most of it.

How about you? What are the promises you are making to yourselves at the beginning of this brand new year. Think about this scouts, and don’t waste this exciting new opportunity……….to begin again.

© Bill Shaffer 2003