From left, Rev. Earl Y. Thorpe Jr. of the Church-in-the-Garden, Isma H....

From left, Rev. Earl Y. Thorpe Jr. of the Church-in-the-Garden, Isma H. Chaudhry of the Islamic Center of Long Island, and Rabbi Jack Dermer of Temple Beth Torah. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.; Islamic Center of Long Island; Phil Schoenfeld

New Year’ resolutions can go beyond dieting, increasing exercise or reducing alcohol consumption to include sowing spiritual growth. This week’s clergy discuss transitioning to 2022 by taking time to meditate, finding ways to increase awareness of God's presence in our daily lives or reducing egocentric behavior.

Rabbi Jack Dermer

Temple Beth Torah, Westbury

The new year, like all moments of transition, provides us with a sacred opportunity to pause and look inward as we imagine the story of a year we hope to create. As years pass, we find ourselves taking stock of external matters, our finances, our appearance and the like. People of faith recognize the value of taking an accounting of the soul as well. What virtues would we like to make up the tapestry of who we are?

I invite you to be intentional about your vision for your spiritual growth in the year ahead. Consider unplugging, finding a peaceful space and pausing for just a few moments on the evening of Dec. 31. As the clock turns toward midnight, look inward with eyes of honesty. How is my relationship with myself, with others and with God?

It is said in Jewish tradition that when we pray, we speak to God, and when we meditate, we offer a chance for God to respond. While I can’t guarantee that God's response will land on your heart loud and clear, what I do know is that in asking the deeper questions about your vision for yourself, with faith and courage, you will grow immeasurably and begin next year better prepared to fulfill your highest purpose.

The Rev. Earl Y. Thorpe Jr.

Pastor, Church-in-the-Garden, Garden City

The spiritual preparation for the year ahead is an endeavor that is rooted in a practice of faith-seeking in all aspects of our lives. That is to say, grand pronouncements of what we intend to be spiritually are often quick to dissipate and are theologically impractical. We know not what the day will bring, nor what tomorrow holds. Yet, those whose faith practice believes in an eternal God should be buoyed by the extraordinary awareness of that same God being present with us and aiding us in our life’s journey.

Our faith demands that we trust God and live out our spiritual calling daily. Indeed, our faith walk is subject to life’s complex and complicated realities. But I believe in walking "by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7), understanding and expecting that spiritually there will be some dark moments we may not foresee.

However, as the theologian and philosopher Kierkegaard suggested, faith can see God in those times of darkness since faith sees best in the dark. Thus, we are never alone. We can prepare for tomorrow by praying today, remembering how God has blessed us in the past, and understanding that faith will help us negotiate our futures.

Isma H. Chaudhry

Board of trustees co-chair, Islamic Center of Long Island, Westbury

The spiritual fulcrum of Islam is the guidance from the holy Scripture, the Quran, and the tradition of Prophet Muhammad, both of which inspire us to focus on fostering a spiritual connection with the divine and enhancing an equitable relationship with humanity and the environment.

The Quran instructs us not to transgress the balance of our obligations to our fellow human beings. Quran Chapter 55, Verses 7 to 9, say, "And the heaven He raised and imposed the balance. That you not transgress the balance. And establish weight in justice and do not make deficient the balance."

The past couple of years have been challenging for humanity globally. In the year ahead, we need to pivot away from arrogance and egocentric attitudes that incline us to behavior that trends toward injustices. We need to recognize the global challenges of a pandemic, along with inequities and injustices toward racial and ethnic minorities, and ongoing humanitarian crises, and renew our focus to collectively address these issues with responsibility, justice and compassion.

We need to strive in the year ahead to reduce bias, bigotry and prejudices in all forms.

DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS you’d like Newsday to ask the clergy? Email them to

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