Reflection – January 2022
The simplest of events can make a remarkable difference. I recently relearned this. One of my cousin’s children, tiny four-year-old Thea, sparkles with enthusiasm. After my visit, I was just ready to get into my car when I heard my name called. I turned to see Thea racing down the long, sloping lawn, looking like a wee angel with invisible wings, barefooted, no coat on in the unusually warm December air. “I made a gift for you,” Thea said as she held out a small square post-a-note with nine squiggly lines drawn across it. I expressed my sincere thanks, although not understanding what the lines meant. Thea detected this and explained matter-of-factly, “I can’t do words but I can draw.” Then she added, “You like oceans, don’t you?”
“I can’t do words but I can draw.” Those seven words engraved themselves on my mind. They’ve helped me make some sense out of how to enter a new year still ruled by Covid-19. Thea gave me the beauty of the ocean and a gift of her passionate, loving spirit. She didn’t have what she needed, couldn’t yet put into words what she hoped to convey, but found a creative way to express and offer her gift.
I think of the year ahead and the continued issue of Covid, the easy freedom and societal openness of the past still unavailable. However, a lot of the goodness in life remains. Like Thea, I don’t have the words but I can draw. I can make the best of what I do have, instead of grumbling about what I do not have. I can adjust to how life currently presents itself and stop trying to push life back the box of “normal.” Which is not to deny any of the difficult situations as we enter 2022. Pope Francis focused on this challenging reality in his January 1st homily: “We are still living in uncertain and difficult times due to the pandemic. Many are frightened about the future and burdened by social problems, danger stemming from the ecological crisis, injustices, and by global economic imbalances.”
While all of this and more continues to concern a stressful society, I believe much of value and benefit equally exists among us: generosity, kindness, dedicated service, supportive relationships, great books, inspiring music and art, plus the grand beauty of the natural world. Lots of dedicated people are currently working toward the well-being of humans, creatures, and our planet Earth. American environmentalist, Paul Hawken, declares hope in this regard when he writes about “…the growth of a worldwide movement that is determined to heal the wounds of the earth with the force of passion, dedication, and collective intelligence and wisdom. Across the planet groups ranging from ad-hoc neighborhood associations to well-funded international organizations are confronting issues like the destruction of the environment, the abuses of free-market fundamentalism, social justice, and the loss of indigenous cultures. … While they are mostly unrecognized by politicians and the media, they are bringing about what may one day be judged as the single most profound transformation of human society.”
And so I step into 2022 with a positive outlook. Like young Thea, I intend to value what I have and do what I can to share it in a beneficial way. How will you enter the new year? What will your attitude be toward the future? Please join me in holding hands with Hope.
Reproduced on the Marley Parish website by kind permission of Sister Joyce Rupp, osm.
Joyce Rupp/Servants of Mary, 1165 Office Park Rd., # 308, West Des Moines, IA 50265