There is an end of year vibe going around, “F*&k 2020” that I understand, at a level, but I think we need to be adult about our review of the heart-break and troubles of 2020.
If we stop and allow our spirits to settle a bit, long enough to quell the shock and awe of the legion of man-made abuses imposed upon our senses and sensibilities, is it possible to find blessings in 2020? I step into this moment of ponder with great care, knowing that the suffering has been immense and deep. I do not wish to turn my heart’s eyes away from the damage and trauma that many have experienced/are experiencing.
Still, as I contemplate in my spiritual tradition, I wish to explore calling to account any blessings we may have overlooked in the tumult of the year. What lessons may we build upon in order to preventatively protect each other, as each lived moment simultaneously becomes our past and our future?
With all the hope we have for a different 2021, it is my belief that we must remain responsible and rational in our approach to this new year. Optimism is good. Blind optimism with an intense desire to discard without review what we have experienced, what we have lost, how we have changed….not so much.
Nothing changes if we are silly about the transition of the calendar. Nothing changes, and we condemn ourselves to more cycles of trauma, oppression, contentiousness, and separation. Don’t get me wrong – I believe in magic, but practical magic is the stuff of heroes and masters, and heroes and masters know not to rely solely on the universe for their magic to be effective. We are, after all, each one of us, creators and creatrixes.
What of the grace we shared with each other? Was there enough grace in our interactions with each other to shine a light on 2020? I think we must first ask, do we even know how to recognize grace given, grace received? I personally can account for more instances of grace in my social spheres than I can remember from previous years. True grace. Given and received. I’m changed by those instances, and they shine in my space like precious gemstones.
What are we to make of the rebels? The ones who fought so hard for their ‘freedom’ but who did so without recognition of the responsibility of being free? When I think of rebels, what I have seen these last four years doesn’t fit my idea of what rebels should be. The behaviors of those folks who crowed the loudest about protecting their ‘freedom’ this year does not fit my understanding of ‘rebel’. There was no equality or justesse in their bellows…only selfish indignation and forceful attempts to maintain supremacy.
I like rebellion, as a rule. Rebellion is an important energy to keep alive. At bay, but alive. Rebellion is a powerful change agent – but devastatingly destructive if used improperly and unwisely. What can we learn from these supposedly rebellions actions of our neighbors, colleagues, family members? Who did they harm with their selfish rebelliousness? What actions are we to undertake to help those who were harmed? Will we ever be able to break bread and commune with the rebellious again, in peace and grace? Who will make the first overture to a peaceful reconciliation?
What are we to learn from the abusers of power? I believe that if we don’t contemplate the extent of their abuse, we will be limited in our ability to course correct their misdeeds. Do we need to change our approach to the eradication of oppression and inequality? Would it help us to acknowledge that people in power treat their application of inequitable policies and processes as a game? What approach will we have to adopt to stop being used as their football, hockey puck, soccer ball, baseball? There have been many hands this year trying to make light the work of eradicating inequality and oppression. I’m so grateful for their courage. I have watched, notedly from the sidelines, as their courage was countered with brutal and unjust oppression as they stood for justice and equality. What can we do to help advance the work their ground work and take it to the next level?
Some of the blessings I saw this year – people who were willing to stand for justice, in peaceful, if not rowdy, ways. I also saw people being more vulnerable with expressing their anxieties, pains, worries and fears. I observed the kindness of others in taking retirement from their long careers in order to preserve jobs for others who did not have that privilege. I saw people praying more, but not in a religiously oppressive way. I know people, who even while being constantly shocked by the callousness of elected and elevated folks, sought to find ways to see good in the world. Who constantly tried to pivot to find the light, the humor, the silver lining.
Those are my people. And when we stand together, arm in arm, heart to heart, as human beings, we make a better future for everyone. So, count the blessings. Take stock of the losses. Learn the lessons. Prepare and gird your being for another bumpy year, but know that together we shine bright. That together we have the ability to heal.
I am healing my brokenness, and finding new ways to help others. I find myself better equipped to choose optimism instead of pessimism, and to embrace the tenderness of a broken heart as a way to help others heal. I won’t run from my pain, sorrow, or anxiety. I will face it head on, and seek healing in the medicines of my ancestors.
Here is a blessing from Irish poet John O’Donohue, whose works have found their way back into my sphere. Happy New Year.
Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.
Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.
May anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.
From “To Bless the Space Between Us”