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