The New Year…what does it hold?
Wishing you a new year rich with the blessings of love, joy, warmth, and laughter. Wishing you a year that is filled with all the fragrance of roses, illuminated with all the lights of the world and be blessed with all the smiles on the planet. Hope this year will be the year when all your dreams come true.
A new year. The road seems to stretch out with infinite possibilities. Yet, as we still heal in a physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual sense, the start of the new year may not ‘feel’ as positive as it might. That is why I started with the above sentiment – something that is more hopeful.
It will likely take me a ‘moment’ into the new year to ‘shed’ myself of some of the challenges of the ‘old year.’ The shedding will not be instantaneous because I/we are still dealing with many pieces of dark from last year.
Let’s start to explore what ‘may be.’ I am hopeful that our exploration will end in a more encouraging place.
Many, if not most of us, made a few adjustments in how we celebrated Christmas. A common story I heard was that we were not with all of our family, friends, loved ones. Christmas didn’t have the same feel. Something was missing. Yet, there were the normal ‘traditions’ of decorating (in some fashion), food, and perhaps small gatherings with those in our ‘pod.’ We exchanged gifts, and, depending on your religious traditions, celebrated some very special gift(s) that were not about presents. We attempted to lift our spirits.
As we begin another year ‘together,’ thank you for your readership. Let us move into the new year with pieces of light that will grow even brighter.
Do your best and be well…
The New Year…now what?
I wrote last month about the rhythm of life from the standpoint of Constructing, Deconstructing and Reconstructing (or, Order, Disorder, and Reorder) in life. I feel that last year offered a lot of deconstructing/disorder on many levels. I believe that 2021 offers the hope of restoring ‘order;’ to reconstruct our lives in new and meaningful ways, even it may take us a while into the new year to come to fruition.
The pandemic has been our world for much of last year into this year. It is on the horizon for the foreseeable future (into early summer based on vaccine distribution projections). The Pandemic is like a giant ocean liner. It must slow its momentum for it to change direction. We must allow our own measures of masks, washing hands, and social distancing to aid the vaccine in its quest to eliminate the threat of COVID-19. It seems ironic that the vaccine came along at a time when we were experiencing record infections and deaths. Yet, there is hope that by early summer we will have been able to provide vaccines to everyone over 16.
The pandemic has had many effects on our world – economic, physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. I don’t know if we fully understand all of the ripples on individuals and companies and their ability and speed with which they can return to work and greater sustainability. My sense is there will be many small businesses, particularly in the restaurant and entertainment sector, that won’t return. We will endure additional economic hardships to restore the economy and pay down our national debt.
Even with all the disruptions of the last ten months, I think of the parts of our lives that operated with some normalcy. We cared for children, property, our responsibilities. We could look around us and see nature carrying on as we have experienced. The sun came up, the seasons changed. During a tragedy of epic proportion, we could find beauty when we were willing to look. Last year was a living paradox, just as we are living paradoxes. There was what seemed to be overwhelming darkness sprinkled with pieces of light and hope.
The overwhelming number of people on this planet have been challenged – many with their very survival. There have been and will be many more who are living on the margins without work and those who are food challenged. These are the bleaker pieces of last year.
Even my writing contained the bleaker moments of “Deconstruction” and the more hopeful side of “Resilience.” My experience with me/you/others is that we have the tremendous capacity to be resilient – to raise ourselves out of difficult circumstances; to thrive again after periods of great challenge. It is God’s gift.
There were countless stories of sacrifice; first responders, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who worked tirelessly caring for those who were sick, alone. Many of those workers and others reaching out to families via phone to allow the families to say their last goodbyes. I saw goodness. I saw grace. I saw the best of us in the middle of horrific tales of polarization – in politics, in race, in religion, in justice. Again, the paradox of our lives.
So, we stand at the beginning of another year wondering, waiting for parts of our lives to improve. Another gift we are given besides the gift of hope is the gift of choice – what will we choose, who will we choose to become as a result of great difficulty and suffering? Are we, will we, choose resilience? Will we cherish life a little more, love others better? Be more tolerant? Be more forgiving? Will we recognize that what unites us is far greater than what divides us; work towards healing rather than division? Will we reach out to those marginalized? Will we live with the intent to become a better version of ourselves?
Choice – powerful, intimidating, hopeful.
As I look at another year, I am reminded of a portion of MLK, Jr’s speech August 28, 1963 as part of the march on Washington for jobs and freedom. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Will I/you/we move that dream closer to reality?
It seems to me that what emerged for me in this writing may have been equal parts struggle and hope, or dark and light if you will. While those of us who are optimists may wish for our years to contain many more parts hope and light, perhaps the past year in its best light may be more ‘equal’ in its darkness and light.
One of the books I read last year was Little Pieces of Light by Joyce Rupp, a book about darkness and personal growth. In her Epilogue she offers us this:
“In his novel The Heart of the Hunter, Laurens van der Post describes a poignant scene in the midst of the Kalahari desert. He camps there with local bushmen, and they sit around a circle of fire. The absence of any artificial light allows for a world of complete darkness once one moves beyond the campfire. The stars hang low in the sky, their brilliance not only seen but heard. Van der Post describes the sound of the stars as “this intense electric murmur at one’s ears.” Then he sees the outline of a bush woman holding her young infant up to the stars. She is singing some kind of chant with her face lifted to the sky.
When van der Post asks the local bushmen what the woman is doing, they tell him she is asking the stars to take the heart of her child and give him “something of the heart of a star in return…because the stars have heart in plenty.” The heart of the stars is a hunting heart, one that seeks with courage and finds the inner nourishment needed for life.” When I read this explanation, I thought of all of us who have been in darkness. When the light comes back, it is as though we have a “child” within us coming to birth.
The “child” may be a new way of living or loving, a deepened sense of self-esteem, a turning over of our old ways, a ripening of our past ideas and beliefs, a wisdom rising from a grieving, or any other new and fresh development. If only we could, as the bush woman did with her child, take this part of us and hold it tenderly, trustingly in our open hands.
…We carry our greatest treasure within us: a place of light that will forever shine, a radiance that will always light our way home. Let us trust this light. It will never go out.”
This seems to be a perfect to end this writing and wish you a new year rich with blessings.
Toward a better you…