Happy New Year or Sliding toward Grace

The only true journey is not to go to other landscapes, but to have other eyes. —Marcel Proust

That seemed a fitting way to begin a year’s end look at 2020.

Throughout the months of this strange year, I have learned the shadows of branches and the Latinate contours of the scientific names of trees in the Public Gardens…though I suspect the ducks might know their truer identity and the crows could offer commentary on the suitability of each one for staging a recitation of their op-ed pieces. I have been to protests and vigils, and driven roads to nearby though never before seen landscapes that took my breath away.

I’ve learned new things about the landscape of technology and websites and how to work with their offerings in new ways to create something that will be of use to others. The Spirituality Centre has been able to stream programming happening in house and has also been able to collaborate and host events on behalf of other groups. I have connected more intentionally with people near-flung and far and in so doing felt the window-fresh inspiration of new discovery, relationship, and insight as well as the comforting snug of long-time acquaintance.

Childhood sugar cookies…or more accurately, flour cookies… have been recreated and proved a most popular hit with others. Part of the joy of making them was the use of a beautifully simple rolling pin I purchased at the local farmer’s market. It is nothing more than a pillar of maple wood that is perfectly smooth, undeniably solid, and does exactly what it was meant to do without fuss or frill. I find a deep satisfaction in using tools like this…the clean and purposeful aesthetic sits well within me. Strawberry clafoutis baked in a cast iron skillet was another adventure. I’ve also soaked dried beans to create soups and other bits of delicious for the first time, learned to use chile peppers without the heat overpowering, and enjoyed grits a thousand ways for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all three.

All of this is true and is colour flecked upon a year’s wide canvas of tragedy.

As of this paragraph’s writing, 1,820,422 people around the world have died from Covid-19. Yet, not wearing a mask, regardless of the possible outcome, is a freedom too many are too willing to claim.

Black Lives Matter protests happened all around the world following the death of George Floyd beneath the knee of a police officer…there was a swell in the activity of this movement following this death caught on camera, but there have been too many others for too many years—and hundreds of thousands of people around the world raised fists and voices and took to the streets.

I think simply saying the inexcusable danger of ’45’ is enough to cover my feelings regarding U.S. governmental oversight without spiralling down into an unavoidable large dank divot absent of much that I value yet nonetheless filled with a vision for the future that an unavoidably large number of people believe to be the manifestation of American Values that will provide security for their future.

Here in Nova Scotia, on April 18-19, 23 people died after a mass-murderer went on a spree. The conflict between commercial fishers and First Nations’ fishers resulted in violence and arson, and further fuelled hatred.

I hope I have learned enough from all that has happened this year to help make 2021 a bit better for as many as possible. We don’t know and can’t predict what lies ahead—and in some ways, maybe it doesn’t matter—because…well, we never do know, not really. What we can control to some degree is how we make our way through what ever it might be. Grace or challenge.

Janet Erskine Stuart did say…Remember that whatever happens….you must say to yourself, according to circumstances, joyfully and thankfully or humbly and submissively or bravely or if need be, defiantly to the troubles within, this is part of the story…

I have to say, though, as the hours left in 2020 tick away, and the kitchen fills with the warm cozy of supper doing its thing on the stove behind me, I’m praying that the balance slides toward grace…for us all…

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