Home

Stubborn Hope in the New Year

2 Comments

So many social media posts this week sound like gasps or relief: Finally, it’s over! We made it! A fresh start! 

I don’t know what planet they are living on, but I don’t see much changing for a time. 2021 felt like a continuation of the dreaded 2020, except that it started off with an insurrection at the Capitol and the loss of one of my dearest friends to COVID. 

It’s hard to hope in the midst of the latest COVID surge and against a backdrop of historic floods and droughts and wildfires. Any yet. And yet. Here it is New Year’s Eve, a time of looking forward with hope to what a new year might bring. My pastor recently said that hope takes courage and determination, and it seems that has never been more true. 

We must be stubbornly hopeful. What miracles might we hope for? 

“Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down”
Jackson Browne

Pandemic Lessons

First of all — leaving aside the maniacs celebrating at Times Square tonight — most of us have been gradually learning to let go of bright & shiny distractions, extravaganzas, and expectations that we will be endlessly entertained by . . . something, anything. Spiritual sages throughout history have taught that “letting go” and “surrendering” are essential to spiritual growth. COVID has provided a master class in surrender.

We are learning to truly appreciate and sometimes cherish simple time with our families and close friends, those we lost to COVID and those still with us. We have rediscovered taking walks instead of “going for coffee,” making meals together instead of going to restaurants, reading books instead of going to concerts or movies or — well, anywhere. 

I confess I have felt resentful about those brief periods between COVID variants when we cautiously began to gather, to hug, to dine out. It felt like 2021 dangled hope before us and then snatched it away. But remembering those fleeting moments and the deep relief of getting vaccinated, I see that my thirsty soul was filled with a good dose of hope in 2021. I sat at a few dining tables with close friends, I ate food made by hands other than my own, I sang around fire pits, I went to crafts fairs and even made a few new friends. All of these are reminders that life will return to some form of normal. There is hope.

Possible Miracles

Maybe we will all be so sick of Zoom that we’ll reduce our screen time and enjoy time with actual human beings! Maybe the new habits of walking and gardening and chatting with neighbors will take hold and we’ll become healthier people, more in touch with our bodies, with our communities, and with the earth. Yes, there is hope. 

There is hope that the climate disruption we witness every day now, either personally or in the news, will be enough to overcome the evil greed that keeps our nation from acting in its own interest. 

I have hopes that the committee investigating the January 6 insurrection will hold public hearings to expose the involvement of past and present elected officials in the effort to overthrow our democracy. There is hope that someone will be held accountable.

There is hope, too, that the GOP overreach in various states to keep lower income communities and people of color from voting will be so egregious that a voting rights bill will actually become law. Perhaps our republic will survive when we are all equally able to cast our votes. Perhaps then there will be the will in Congress to reform the police and judicial systems. Maybe even protect our schoolchildren from the NRA! 

“Nothing is impossible with God,” says the Bible. And I believe that. I do. I just forget sometimes.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

My Own Personal Miracles

I long ago gave up New Year’s “resolutions” or “goals,” but I do have three “intentions” for the year 2022. The fact that they closely resemble my 2021 intentions does not bother me; I have learned to give myself a whole lot of grace. I am framing each of my intentions with hope:

  • I will declutter my home with the intention of entertaining loved ones in the future. I haven’t opened my door to friends since grief overtook me and entropy overtook my abode eight years ago. Clearing and cleaning my space will fill my head with hopeful visions of post-pandemic life. I may be stuck alone here right now, but it’s not forever. 
  • I intend to write hope into the world. This intention will keep me on the lookout for hope, so that my blog brings light into dark times. Please hold me to that, dear Readers, if I get too cynical or sarcastic. I also intend to finish the first draft of my memoir. It’s a hard process, reading old journals and remembering past angst & pain, but I nurture the hope that if I stay connected to my God, She will reveal hidden value, meaning, and connections in my life story. 
  • My last intention is most important. The lynchpin of my courage, determination, and hope is my relationship with the Divine. So my intention is to go deeper with God, to open my heart to hope and to miracles. I think I’ve become self-absorbed and stuck in my head during COVID. I’ve limited myself and God, forgetting that “nothing is impossible with God.” It’s time to reconnect with my source.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Her, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Grumpy Advent

7 Comments

I’m home in Maryland after five months at my grandmother’s place, one of those cozy white Cape Cods with green shutters in the woods of New England. The kind of place Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye might show up wearing Santa hats and caroling at the front door, and I would invite them in for mulled wine and ginger cookies and we would sit by the Christmas tree and reminisce about the war. 

Isn’t it weird how that generation is so sentimental and misty eyed about World War II? I think it was the pinnacle of both my parent’s lives. I guess it’s because national – and even global – crises bring people together with a sense of unity and purpose and sacrifice for the common good. We could sure some good old fashioned “goodwill towards all,” these days. Too bad there’s nothing traumatic happening to bring out the best in us, like a deadly pandemic or maybe an ecological crisis that makes polluted air and water seem like a picnic in the park.

Anyway, I’ve buttoned up my little hideaway in New Hampshire for the winter. Funny I still think of it as “Beedie’s house” even though my grandmother has been gone, near as I can tell, for thirty-plus years. I say “near as I can tell” because I’ve been wondering lately if all my departed loved ones have actually departed. There are so many family memories in that creaky old house, it’s hard *not* to believe there are loving spirits hovering about, still rooting for me, comforting me, encouraging me, playing a role in my life that I’m totally unaware of.

I’m currently planning a contemplative Advent Quiet Day at my church, something I organized for years with my recently departed friend Bill Duncan. I swear I can hear his voice, his skeptical reactions to my musings, his laugh. He feels so close sometimes, not “gone” at all.

Christmas is Coming, Ready or Grumpy

I’m working on not getting depressed, because that often happens when I return from New Hampshire. It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s the holidays again and everyone’s dead and even if they weren’t, I couldn’t see them because of this unspeakably horrible unending pandemic. And now we are all supposed to be the worried about this new Origami variant? I just can’t.

I spent Thanksgiving night in a hotel room in Pennsylvania with my adorable cat Alice and a fabulous book, and I got to have fried onion rings & tater tots for dinner. So I can’t complain about that.

Alice & Amor

But when I got home Friday, my pipes had frozen and burst and there was a flood in the kitchen. I pulled a muscle in my back trying to drag the washer out from the corner where it was spewing water. So I’m feeling sorry for myself and pissy about the holidays and am really hoping that these hovering spirits give me a good kick in the pants and get me outside for a walk, because I can’t abide self-pity, especially in myself. 

That’s how I am today. Happy Advent to you, if you are one who entertains visions of angels hovering in the sky over shepherds and flocks. You never know about such things. You never know who’s hovering.

I’m going to go outside and cut some cheerful red holly. Because Christmas.

%d bloggers like this: