This year, my year end message to you was particularly hard to compose. Normally, even last year, I was able to muster up tidings of joy and sentiments of deep gratitude for all the blessings of the past year. But this year, this strange, unsettling year, I can’t quite get to that place.

I haven’t written in a while. I should say, I haven’t posted in a while. I have been writing all along. But the tenor of my journal entries (which are usually reflected here) has consistently fallen short of my vision for this space. I’ve always envisioned it as a place of comfort and peace…a haven of sorts where we could gather to be refreshed and nurtured. I hope you feel that, so far, I’ve met this goal.

But this year, especially these last few months, I’ve been struggling with how to stay true to the reason I write, true to myself and most of all, true to you. I’ve been so frightened by the state of our world. I fear for our children whom we can’t keep safe. I worry about our leaders who are more focused on power than on doing what is best to preserve our democracy. I dread thinking about our precious planet and how we are ignoring all the signs of its demise. I literally cry for the families who have lost everything in fires, storms, wars. And these are the feelings with which I am ending this year.

What are we doing? How did we come to these distressing times? Is there anyway we can reverse the momentum? I feel powerless.

I talked about these feelings with one of my sisters. I’ve been so very blessed to have two sisters, both of whom I treasure. They somehow always know what I need when I need it.

This past week, my younger sister sent me a book – a collection of poems written by Amanda Gorman entitled “Call Us What We Carry”. You will remember Amanda Gorman, the young, beautiful, talented presidential Inaugural poet who astonished us with the reading of her work “The Hill We Climb” as we welcomed our new President into office almost a year ago. Knows I find refuge in poetry, I’m certain my sister felt that maybe this book would help lift my spirits.

I sat down with the book that very night. And it had me at the dedication…

For all of us

both hurting and healing

who choose to

carry on.

 

Hurting…healing…trying to carry on. Exactly how I’m feeling, I thought.

As I turned page after page, I felt a loosening, a lifting, a lightening of all the darkness that had invaded and taken control of my thinking. And two hours later, I came upon the following poem that I share with you here, hoping you, too, will take refuge in the words.

The Miracle of Morning

We thought we’d awaken to a world in mourning.

Heavy clouds crowding, a society storming.

But there’s something different on this golden morning.

Something magical in the sunlight, wide & warming.

 

We see a dad with a stroller taking a jog.

Across the street, a bright-eyed girl chases her dog.

A grandma on a porch fingers her rosaries.

She grins as her young neighbor brings her groceries.

 

While we might feel small, separate & all alone,

Our people have never been more closely tethered.

The question isn’t if we can weather this unknown,

But how we will weather this unknown together.

 

So, on this meaningful morn, we mourn & we mend.

Like light, we can’t be broken, even when we bend.

 

As one, we will defeat both despair & disease.

We stand with healthcare heroes & all employees.

With families, libraries, waiters, schools, artists;

Businesses, restaurants & hospitals hit hardest.

 

We ignite not in the light, but in the lack thereof.

For it is in loss that we truly learn to love.

In this chaos, we will discover clarity.

In suffering, we must find solidarity.

 

For it’s our grief that gives us our gratitude.

Shows us how to find hope, if we ever lose it.

So ensure that this ache wasn’t endured in vain:

Do not ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it.

 

Read children’s books, dance alone to DJ music.

Know that this distance will make our hearts grow fonder.

From these waves of woes our world will emerge stronger.

 

We’ll observe how the burdens braved by humankind

Are also the moments that make us humans kind:

Let each morning find us courageous, brought closer;

Heeding the light before the fight is over.

When this ends, we’ll smile sweetly, finally seeing

In testing times, we became the best of beings.

 

I wish you all a future in which together, we do truly dance to DJ music, and we really do become “the best of beings”.

God bless each and every one of you and all of those whom you love.