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The Borderline Between the Years

The Haskell Free Library and Opera House straddles the border between the US state of Vermont and the Canadian province of Quebec. It has two different mailing addresses and mail boxes, so as to receive the post from both nations. Its books are all in Canada, but its main entrance is in the United States. Visitors to the Haskell’s theater sit in Vermont, but the operas they come to see are all performed in Quebec. Crossing from one side of the Haskell’s reading room to the other is an international voyage. The building is cut in half by an invisible line that officially divides two different nations, with different histories, traditions, ideas, and even languages. And the Haskell’s novel response to the problem of that invisible line, is to act like it doesn’t exist: no border fence cuts through the opera hall, and you will not be asked for your passport in order to use the library.

The building did not arrive where it is by accident. It was put there intentionally as a bridge for relationship and understanding. By standing on the line, the Haskell is a part of both nations, challenging the idea that each is separate and distinct from the other. There are strange and wondrous things to be learned on the borderline. Elsewhere on earth, there are two islands in the Bering Strait, in the far North of the Pacific Ocean, called Big Diomede and Little Diomede. Little Diomede is in Alaska; Big Diomede is only about two and a half miles West, but that puts it in Russia, part of a different continent and on the other side of the International Date Line, where it is 24 hours later. So if you stand on the Western shore of Little Diomede, you can look into tomorrow.

This is the sort of borderline moment that we find ourselves in, at the turning of the year. Like the gap between Big and Little Diomede, like the line down the middle of the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, we are in two different years at once, or very nearly so. Not merely in between, but still within reach of both. The year that is ending as I write this, that will likely have ended by the time you read it, still is not settled in those first weeks of January. We still have the time to resolve our accounts, to make amends, to reconsider the last twelve months, and to form our own story of what 2013 was, and what it meant. Its epilogue is in our hands.

And, at the same time, we are living out the prologue to 2014. The two, in fact, are the same thing. The hinge has two pieces, but acts as a single object, requiring both. The way in which you seal the old year is the way in which you open the new. We might choose to close 2013 in any number of ways: with celebration and revelry; with acrimony and regret; with sorrow, impatience, hope, or melancholy. But however we choose to do it, we will be choosing what comes first for us in 2014. The past is a thing we may never be fully rid of, nor something we can ever entirely lose. So whether you are saying ‘goodbye’ to 2013 as ‘good memories’ or ‘good riddance’, may it set a new way forward for you in the year now beginning to begin.

 

In Faith,

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson

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First Parish Church

225 Cabot St

Beverly, MA 01915

978-922-3968

Office Hours: Mon 8:00 - 11:00 am & Tue-Fri 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

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