Your Monday Muse: Keeping Charity with “Auld Lang Syne”

The watch word for this month has been Charity. Charity to others and for ourselves in our thoughts and prayers. And so as we end this year, we can bring the idea of grace and hope and charity to all with us as we embark on a New Year this week.

It’s been a tough year for many of us to navigate.  I  began the year hopeful that COVID was in the rear view window. And yet many of my own extended family cancelled their scheduled celebrations this Christmas, as the virus had struck someone in their midst.

My brother recently had a complication from a surgery that was considered to be a ‘less-invasive’ type. But we all know that there is some risk attached to all surgeries! Fortunately, our thoughts and prayers, along with the Will of God…saw my brother out of the hospital just five days before Christmas without another surgery. So we were grateful for that.

The Poet Robert Burns

There will always be something….some type of ‘complication’ for all the best-laid plans of men. The famous poet who endeared us to him forever, Robert Burns, with these famous lines about a farmer plowing up the home of a field mouse. The poem, ‘To a Mouse,” contains this famous phrase:   “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Gang aft agley”

His meaning is, as we know, that the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry! And this is, of course, the very same Scottish Poet, Robert Burns, who gives us “Auld Lang Syne.” This week, with the ending of the old year, is the one where we cannot miss the playing of the song in some form or fashion.

The original 18th-Century ballad of “Auld Lang Syne”

The words from Burns were gathered from even older sources in the 18th Century. And the meaning of Auld Lang Syne itself has often been interpreted as either “Days long gone” or “Old times since gone.” There are several versions of this, and the original ballad was a bit different. It goes like this:

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,

And never thought upon;

The flames of Love extinguished,

And fully past & gone:

Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,

That loving Breast of Thine;

That thou canst never once reflect

On Old Long Syne.


On old long syne, my Jo,

On old long syne,

That thou canst never once reflect,

On old long syne.

Well, it appears to be ballad about a lost love! And Robert Burns used his creative imagination to give us the words to one of our most beloved poems. I think the lesson is that we can reflect back and find something good in our past, even as the times have extinguished the original love.

David Bowie tells us….We can’t change time!

And so with 2021, we can reflect on the good and keep it close, and savor the present, and put aside the harsh memories that are long extinguished. We can’t change time, as David Bowie tells us. But we can look back and remember the good in our lives, the hope for the future, and keep charity in our hearts for those we love.

Many good wishes to all for the New Year and for Times Long Past!

ML: 6 Degrees Writer

Mantra: This week, I will keep charity for those who need and deserve kindness and compassion during the harshness that comes with winter. And I will remember the times long ago, when I was given charity and received compassion from others. I will vow to keep that spirit of Christmas charity and good will in my heart all year.

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