Still, there is one motif from the Western genre that I appreciate more than most – scenes which feature the main characters heading over the horizon to whatever lies ahead. These scenes portray the uniquely American optimism that the future brings resolution to our current woes. Hope, happiness, good times, opportunity, and all good things are usually portrayed as lying just over the next horizon, no matter how many bad guys the hero must shoot to make it there! Over the next hill, mesa, or mountain lies opportunity not yet realized, problems not yet solved, and love stories not yet told. Cheesy, I know, but I have to say that this spirit of unbounded optimism often keeps me going.
As we enter 2022, we cross yet another horizon. Some of do this as the literal cowboys we are – tending our ranches and trying to hone our skills at roping. Others cross this horizon as teachers who are still trying to catch our students up from the developmental disruptions of the past two years. Others in our community cross this horizon at the head of our businesses, navigating new levels of inflation that we have not seen in forty years, and supply disruptions that we have not experienced since the Second World War. Others cross yet another horizon as nurses and medical staff trying to tend to a population that is perpetually anxious and angry. Whatever high noon shoot outs and bar brawls that we have been through to get to this point, here we are crossing another horizon together.
As we ride off towards our next sunset, may we be guided by the words of Psalm 90, “Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil…Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands!” (Psalm 90:15 and 17, NRSV).