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Asking the clergy for words of hope

Superstorm Sandy, the massacre in Newtown, Conn., the shootings in Aurora, Colo., the deaths in Benghazi, Libya, the fiscal cliff. For so many, New Year's Eve 2012 and the chance to start anew couldn't have come fast enough.

Our clergy offer words of hope and strength for what's to come.

Sister Helen Chasse, Tabor Retreat Center, Oceanside:

Immediately I thought of everything that has happened in 2012. In light of that, I found my mind going in a thousand different directions. I finally had to say to myself, "You are one of the faithful, name what gives you strength."

In the end, what gives me strength is my faith. I believe that God is present in my life. No matter what happens, I have God to go to. Whatever happens, I have a power greater than my own to draw on. I have hope because past experience has shown me that there is a God presence operating in my life.

John's Gospel says "God is Love." Love has come into the world. It shows up in the faces and in the deeds of people all around me.

So, reflecting on all of that, here are the words I would use:

First, let your faith be a living thing that carries you into and through the new year.

Second, take time for stillness so that you can live each day mindfully.

Third, remember that you have a power greater than your own to draw on whenever you need it.

Fourth, practice recognizing the signs of God's love in the world, especially through the kindness and love of people around you.

Finally, be a loving person yourself. It will make your own new year a better one, and everyone else's a good one, too.

Rabbi Susie Heneson Moskowitz, associate rabbi, Temple Beth Torah, Melville:

Ask yourself if you are doing enough for others. Religion reminds us that it is our responsibility to care for those less fortunate. It teaches us that our lives are enriched by service to others; we can be lifted out of our own problems when we reach out to help others with their issues.

Life is short, so make it meaningful. Take this New Year as a chance to step outside of your comfort zone, to try new things and to meet new people. Slow down and appreciate all the good in your life, and stop and say "Thank you" to God.

Use the new year as a jump-start, an opportunity to give yourself a fresh start and a clean slate. So often, we dwell on the past, on the things we've done wrong. Give yourself permission to forgive yourself, to let the bad go. Learn from what went wrong, but tell yourself this is a new year and a new you who can make the year more like what you want it to be.

Dr. I.J. Singh, author and lecturer specializing in the Sikh religion and Sikhs in America, North Bellmore:

May we all start and end the day with the Infinite that unites us all, so that the middle would not be so dreary. May we enjoy the bounty of life with a mind at peace with the world around us such that, as the Sikh scriptures say, no one is a stranger in God's creation, and no one is an enemy.

Sikhism speaks of no day or time as holier than others, no day of the week, month or year more special than others. Any day, even a moment, spent in an awareness and enjoyment of the Infinite that is both within us and pervades us all irrespective of our race, religion, color, nationality or gender is holy.

Even more than taxes, death is inevitable. We all shed our mortal appearance. Each of us has two robes in our wardrobe: pain and discomfort and comfort and ease.

Therefore, there is no escaping the pain and suffering. What we must do is take a view that transcends the pain and suffering.

Life is measured by what footprints we leave in the sands of time. Don't divide the world into us and them. And, don't dwell on the bad, but look toward the good in life. Of course, it is easier said than done, but that is the essence of faith and religion.

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