As we step lightly through these final days of 2021, it occurs that I’m leaving this year with a vastly different mindset than what I entered it with.
As it was for many of us, my emotional well-being took a beating in 2020, and I fell into deep depression. I began 2021 seeking help and withdrawing to reconnect (ironic, yes?) and regain what I thought was lost.
This has been a year of carrot dangling. If A, then B. But C, so D. When E then F. Until the letters became so scrambled that no one knew anything about anything anymore.
Then came the heat dome and record smashing temperatures that held some of us hostage indoors grateful for air conditioning, while others lost their life due to unrelenting heat. Fires followed. Our province burned and homes and an entire town were lost.
One crazy night we were awakened by a neighbour pounding on our front door. We stood on our deck and saw fire ignited by a lightning strike burning too close. Then the RCMP came and our entire neighbourhood was evacuated. We were lucky. We lost nothing more than a good night’s sleep. So many others in British Columbia were not so fortunate this summer.
Finally, the rain we all prayed for came in the form of atmospheric rivers bringing mudslides and widespread flooding. More loss of homes and livelihoods. Part of our province was cut off from the rest and we gave more thought to the supply chain than ever before.
All of this midst the rumble of a pandemic and heavy handed, if not entirely rational, government mandates and political storms and empty store shelves and a news media we no longer trust and lost livelihood and yes, illness.
Now it’s winter and a deep freeze has us hunkered down at home thankful for heat and water and a stocked pantry, more aware than ever that for many these are no small things. Our household of two seniors and two Yorkies has expanded for the time being to include a daughter, granddaughter, and a cheeky cat.
We are all coming to the end of this year weary.
I dare not try to imagine what 2022 will bring us.
Over the past weeks I’ve been pondering the difference between hope and optimism and have come to the conclusion that it would be foolish to march into the new year with a flag of the latter held high. Am I optimistic that 2022 will fix all the troubles 2020 and 2021 brought us? Not a chance. Truth be told, I expect even greater woes in one form or another in future years.
But hope. Now there’s something I can put my faith in.
Hope, in terms of trusting in the mystery of a Divine hand moving when I don’t see it.
Hope, turned tangible with every sunrise and changing of the seasons.
When I brew tea, I let my eyes rest on the mint and lavender and chamomile growing in the AeroGarden on my kitchen counter and see it. It’s there in the curl of snow reaching over the edge of our roof, and in my granddaughter’s smiling face.
I hear it in the sound of a shovel scraping snow from a driveway, in the performance of a composition by Ludovico EinaudI, and in laughter around our dining table when we play a game together at lunchtime.
Hope will spur me on to lift a cardboard box filled with seeds from a closet shelf to take inventory in a couple of months. It will be with me when I drop tiny seeds into pots and imagine the taste of sweet warm-from-the-sun tomatoes.
It will remind me to look past the nonsense that clamours for my attention and to find peace in the moment and the One who holds it.
No, I’m not optimistic as we head into 2022, but I am hopeful. And that, I believe with all my heart, is the better thing.