We always kept in our hearts the most noble, beautiful feeling that sets human beings apart: Hope.
— Manel Loureiro
As impossible as it seems right now, I fervently hope for world peace!
And you belong right here, where you’re home,
and where I hold you close,
Of all the wonders I’ve ever known,
you’re the one I love the most.
From You Belong Here by M.H. Clark, Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
There is nothing better than snuggling with you under one of the beautiful blankets from our travels together.
Like a sudden thaw in the middle of winter, grace happens at unexpected moments. It stops us short, catches the breath, disarms. If we manipulate it, try to control it, somehow earn it, that would not be grace. Yet not everyone has tasted of that amazing grace, and not everyone believes in it.
– Philip Yancey
On my walk today, I felt the warmth of the sun on my back like the reassuring hand of an old friend.
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird
with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us
he wants to go to sleep,
but he’s restless —
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds
from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.
So, it’s over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he’s done all he can.
excerpt from White-eyes by Mary Oliver
I liked where we lingered and kissed and made plans for Valentine’s Day.
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
from If by Rudyard Kipling
I have already run into events that have knocked almost all of my New Year’s Resolutions completely off-track. I didn’t expect to accomplish every goal over the next fifty weeks, but I did not expect so many things to happen that were completely beyond my control.
And so I take a moment and think. There are things I cannot control, so…what? Should I create a list of lesser goals? No, that is not at all satisfying – I was planning for an epic year, not a mediocre one. I can envision what I want to accomplish, perhaps I just need to take a different path to that goal than the one I had originally planned. And that new path may hold undiscovered joys and opportunities!
I resolve to continue the journey that I started, but along a different path.
Model: Lauren DiMarco
Anagnorisis definition: the point in a play, novel, etc., in which a principal character recognizes or discovers another character’s true identity or the true nature of their own circumstances.
The first sounds I hear upon waking in the morning are those of the low-pitched train whistle as it approaches the station about two miles away. The intensity of the sound seems to vary depending on the weather – it is much louder on foggy days. I hear one blast at first followed by several more urgent blasts. At first, I am comforted by the sounds – sounds of a new day, sounds of my daily life in the city. But then, I think of why the whistle blasts so persistently. This station and these tracks have been the scene of a number of tragedies in recent years – high school students mostly. So those first happy thoughts quickly turn to sadness, mourning for the unknown-to-me young lives lost. Every lighthouse, buoy marker, and signal can also be a symbol for the ominous. Then I realize that I must put aside my dark thoughts and be grateful for the wonderful day that lies ahead!
“…the men recognized one another only by the pattern of stripes on the caps. The men were bundled up so tightly against the fierce cold that only their eyes were visible.” Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
It’s wintertime and I plan to spend time outdoors. Despite the prevalence of winter survival videos that make life in the wilderness look so easy, the elements can be very unpredictable and conditions can become life-threatening very quickly. I have experienced some challenging times in snow country, including my snowmobile falling through the ice. Fortunately, I was able to jump away from the ice hole, but after that, I had a much greater respect for winter safety and safety in general. I travel with a buddy whenever possible and make sure I set up a communication and locator alert system with a designated family member or friend before setting out.
Here’s what I do to keep warm and safe in the cold:
1. Wear a woolen hat and neck warmer. (I have knit myself several, and always bring a couple of extra ones in case it snows heavily and they get wet.)
2. Use a waterproof shell for my woolen mittens to keep my hands warm and dry (see below). I pack spare pairs of mitten liners.
3. Dress in layers to regulate my warmth and so I can remove or replace ones if needed. I pack backup clothes as well, including a bag that I always keep in the trunk of the car. If it is really cold, I wrap a wide wool scarf around my waist and over my kidneys to keep my core warm.
4. I know my gear: I have tested my sleeping bag to be sure of its comfort rating. I pack an extra one in case the temperature drops lower than anticipated. (I use a converted quilt as my backup sleeping bag to my mummy sleeping bag.) I make sure to keep them both dry, especially since they are down-filled.
5. Take a pocket thermometer to be aware of the temperature dropping, particularly in the late afternoon.
6. Take a travel carbon monoxide detector in case I have to spend time in my car or a cabin with a gas heater or open flame.
7. Keep my phone charged and keep it close to my body so it doesn’t freeze up. Pack a backup battery.
8. A flashlight, headlamp, and high visibility reflective vest are musts.
9. Bring along extra food such as power bars and especially water – I keep a water bottle tucked in an inside pocket.
10. Car equipment: chains or cables, shovel, sand or kitty litter for traction. Snow equipment: waterproof boots with snow leg gaiters, snowshoes, boot calipers, rope, and a small axe, ice pick and knife. I mark my ice pick handle with one inch markings to measure the thickness of the ice.
I make no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing,
sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. Anaïs Nin
At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, I open my front door and let the old year out and welcome the New Year in. It is a moment of complete purity, betwixt the two years – 2022 about to begin, with no mistakes in it (yet). There is yearning, an expectant pause about what all the year might have to offer.
Unlike Anaïs Nin, I make resolutions each New Year to form a structure from which to flourish. And so, with great excitement, I face another beginning, when all things are possible!
May your New Year be all that it can be for you, too! Happy 2022!
Model: Khrystyana Kazakova
Success consists of going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill
My father loved sports and games. He was a fierce competitor and exuberant victor. I revered him and from a very young age wanted to get in on the action. I knew that I would never beat him at the chosen sport or game, but it was thrilling just to be in his realm while I played opposite him. He didn’t believe in throwing a game or giving handicaps – if I were to win, it would have to be a completely unambiguous victory.
As the years went on, I accepted defeat – most of the time it was utter defeat, complete annihilation, actually. But in my teens I figured out a way to play against him that became enjoyable. Rather than concentrate on the final outcome, always defeat for me, I played by point spreads. To my surprise, I actually got better at the sports and games and wanted to play more often. I became a warrior and found enjoyment in the challenge! I never did beat him at any sport or game but I always had a good time.
After reviewing my 2021 New Year’s Resolutions, I realized that I had completed only three of the thirty listed. Hardly a victory. But I had a good time trying and I am actually further ahead than this time last year. I now have another list for 2022 – do I really think that I will complete it? No. But I will enjoy the challenge!
Photo by David Dodds
The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy. Take Joy.
And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever,
the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
Putting the last ornaments on the tree…
Photos by James and Chloe Currie