Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Year of the Rat

According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of the Rat began February 7. I am a Rat, as are my second-born daughter and my second-born granddaughter. Grandgirl Susan says she will have a child in 2020 so as to maintain the Rat line in our family for four generations. To learn more than you want to know about Rats—who, I humbly note, are “blessed with one of the best intellects going”—click on this link.

I am sending Susan a children’s novel by Grace Lin, The Year of the Rat. Here is how chapter 1 ends:

“You know,” [Mom said,] “since the Year of the Rat is the first year of the next twelve-year cycle, it symbolizes new beginnings.”
“And that means changes,” Melody’s mom said, and she gave her family a funny look I didn’t understand. “The Year of the Rat is the time to make a fresh start and to change things.”
Melody and I looked at each other. She had a weird look on her face. I felt confused. Changes? I liked the way things were right now. What was going to happen in the Year of the Rat?

Change is part of what it means to be human. During Lent we hear readings like “All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field” (Isaiah 40:6). But not all change is gloomy. Isaiah goes on to tell Israel that their fortunes are about to change for the better: “I am about to do a new thing,” God says (43:19).

Congratulations to three of my good friends whose changes so far in this Year of the Rat are delightful.

  • A., who was accepted into a doctoral program at a major university
  • E., who bought a condo with cherry wood floors and a magnificent view
  • J., who will be received into the Catholic Church on Thursday

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