When I reflect on the year past, it is easy to become anxious about the future. 2017 wasn’t easy. Disasters hit in rapid succession, their combined effect making each more daunting than the one before. Floods, fires, earthquakes. Simmering racial tensions heated and boiled over into the streets. We were shocked to learn that our country, even our families were sharply divided by our social and political beliefs. Social media became a national forum for proclaiming unsubstantiated “facts” and venting unfiltered frustrations. Scientists were discounted and their hard work dismissed by government spokespersons on the basis of undocumented claims based on personal belief as best, or worse, vested interests. One after another trusted leader tumbled from power as as entrenched patterns of sexual harassment in the workplace came to light. All of this served up to us as “Breaking News” 24/7 in HD Surround Sound, by newscasters scrambling frantically for the latest sensational tidbit.
Sadly, rather than becoming unified against our common problems, for the most part, we seemed to have been pulled apart. I am exhausted by all of it.
2017 was indeed a challenging year. However, it was not the only challenging year we have faced as a nation. We have weathered far greater storms and we will come through this one. There has always been darkness. Darkness in the world, darkness in me, in each one of us. But there is also light. And to stay in that light and avoid slipping into disillusionment, I am going to need spiritual nourishment, Lots of it.
So here are some of my New Year’s resolutions to feed my spirit.
Spend more time with kids.
If we are watching, children will teach us how to enjoy the beauty of ordinary things; the intricate design of a daisy petal, the magic of dew fall on blue bonnets, how to dream.
Dreaming comes naturally to children. They have no battle scars yet, anything is still possible. Inevitably, as the years go by, dreams are lost along the way. It is easy to become cynical, to lose hope. But without it our spirits wither and die. Dreams are spiritual food. They are the crucibles in which hope is formed. It is the dream that is important, not the outcome. Children know that.
Make time for art.
We Americans tend to think of art as a luxury, an activity only to be indulged when there is surplus money and time. Art programs are the first to be cut from our educational and personal budgets. But we are deluding ourselves. Art has dramatic healing power.
A painting is more than an image on a canvas. It is an invitation to escape our world to another of our choosing, to be calmed, inspired, challenged; to emerge recharged and refreshed.
Keep friends close
I am blessed to have good friends. We are there for each other; for comfort, encouragement, support, or just a good laugh. We “get” each other. Each new conversation begins where the last one left off, even after years have intervened. And yet it’s so easy to postpone that call or visit “until I’m not so busy;” to tell myself I’m keeping in touch on Facebook or by text. But I know better. I’m cheating myself. My friends are not mine forever. They are on loan. Each moment with one of them is a gift to be treasured.
Hang out with animals. No explanation needed.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!