As we complete another year, that measure of our shared trip around the Solar System together, we look back on another one that once again seems to outdo the previous years in total strangeness, though there are always signs of hope.
In the Middle East and North Africa, is it an "Arab Spring" or a new terrible Dark Age? On the first day in May, a beloved Pope is elevated closer to sainthood while the world's most notorious terrorist leader meets his violent end.
Economic uncertainty and unemployment and the ongoing conflicts about protection of human life and other fundamental cultural issues persisted through 2011 and will continue into 2012.
While there have been many pleasant days to remember, there was an earthquake, hurricane and heavy rains from a former hurricane all within a couple of weeks along the Mid-Atlantic coast. More destructive forces struck in the form of tornadoes in the Southern and Midwestern US, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and flooding in other parts of the world along with ongoing drought and famine in East Africa.
Off-planet, new worlds being uncovered, particularly by the Kepler mission, are becoming more common and more varied. The Space Shuttle era came to a nostalgic end with its final successful missions to the International Space Station, which will carry on with the assistance of an emerging commercial space sector that will likely become more prominent in 2012.
The race for the GOP presidential nomination has been the most topsy-turvy campaign that I can remember, with front-runners rising and falling almost by the month as the strengths and weaknesses of each are assessed. There's a lot of angst among the voters as many yearn for a redo on that "Hope & Change" thing from the last time around.
So be safe and happy as we enter a new year. And with God's blessing, let's get ready for an exciting 2012 as another opportunity to advance a culture of life, a new birth of freedom and an expanding frontier.