In the coming year, we will experience many of the same emotions as this year — joy, sorrow, hope, despair and love. All that we feel are part of life's journey.

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Well, we just about made it through another year. Although the Mayan calendar ended Dec. 21, we have been blessed to see several days since then. As we approach a new year, it is customary to take inventory of the past 12 months.

We have shared joys, sorrows and more than a few surprises. Some who never thought they would be able to say “I do” to their loved ones are already experiencing wedded bliss. Marriages, divorces, births and deaths are all part of life’s amazing journey.

In 2012, some dreams were fulfilled and others shattered. The U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastic team won gold, and the ravages of Hurricane Sandy are still being felt on the East Coast. Twenty young lives were snuffed out in Newtown, Conn., almost before they began. The sorrow of that massacre and the heroism of the adults who were also slaughtered still pierce our hearts and haunt our memories.

We can go back through the newspaper and remember events that occurred over the past year, but it is just as important to recognize God’s grace and presence over that same time span. Life unfolds unexpectedly, and we rely on God’s grace to help us make it through the hard times.

You may not have won the lottery, but recovering from an illness is a combination of science and grace. Keeping one’s sanity in a crazy work environment where more is demanded with fewer resources is another act of grace. Forgiving hurtful comments and actions of others is all about grace, too. Seeing first-responders put their lives on the line is grace in the midst of tragedy.

In a few days, 2013 will be here. It is a good time to ask how we want the coming year to be different. You can make your annual resolution to lose 20 pounds, or really put some thought into making a difference in the world. What steps will we take to heal ourselves and the world? How will we make this country a safer place for children, the elderly and other vulnerable people? What can you do to reduce your carbon footprint and to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illnesses?

Resolutions may not be your thing, but every day we can choose to live better. We can choose to say “I love you” more often to our spouses and friends. Yes, they may already know we love them, but never miss an opportunity to reassure them. We never know when it might be our last opportunity.

Some of us can improve life by slowing down. Attending one more work meeting still will not get everything done. There will always be more to do. At some point we just have to walk away and choose to spend more time with those we love.

I look forward to 2013 not because 2012 was so tough, but because it beats the alternative of being 6 feet under. I marvel at how quickly 365 days go by, and I give thanks to be alive one more day.

In the coming year, we will experience many of the same emotions as this year — joy, sorrow, hope, despair and love. While the circumstances will be different, the feelings will be familiar. All that we feel are part of life’s journey. In Disney’s “The Lion King,” there is a song titled “The Circle of Life.” In a world where life, death, loss and recovery are constantly felt, these words give hope that tomorrow will be a brighter day.

It’s the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the Circle

The Circle of Life

The Rev. Patricia L. Hunter is an associate in ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church and senior benefits consultant for American Baptist Churches in the USA. Readers may send feedback to