by Sonia Solomonson
I have always loved opening new calendars. All those empty spaces and pages. Few commitments (at least until I begin to fill it with activities and meetings). This year has a slightly different feel. For I, like so many of you, am unsure of just when it will be safe to resume some of the activities I used to take for granted. So, for now, I am not entering them into my calendar. Trips to see my kids and grandkids—or my siblings. My yoga classes. Reflexology, massages, and Healing Touch appointments. My Bible study gatherings. Regular lunch or dinner dates with friends. My usual joy at seeing the calendar’s empty spaces is dampened. I don’t yet know the shape and parameters of 2021.
Who else in my circle will get COVID? (Someone in each of my three sons’ families has gotten it so far, and two of the people have what’s known as COVID long-haulers, with ongoing after-effects.) Several people in my congregation have had or have it. How many more people will die? Will I get it? Will my sweetie get it? When will it be safe to see my kids and grandkids again? My siblings? Friends? Zoom only goes so far. Mind you, I’m grateful for such technology. But it isn’t the same as being together in person. Air hugs aren’t the same as real hugs.
Further, I have concerns about our country and all the divisions: our racial divide and our political divide. Can we ever come together again?
It’s a choice
Still, despite all those questions (and, yes, fears!), I want to make this new year as good as it can be. I don’t want to put my focus on what’s missing and what’s broken. I want to make some positive choices. I want to do my part to make things better. I want to let my light shine. I want to live in gratitude.
I read that the authors of the annual “World Happiness Report” wrote in March 2020, “The key to finding happiness during this time is not through social distancing but rather through distance socializing.” They said that maintaining ties with friends, colleagues, and family “is crucial.” Yes, indeed. So as tired as we might be of Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or Google Meets, those options are crucial to our well-being. We connect in whatever ways we can—and remain thankful that we can do so.
I also love what one of my favorite artists and authors, Jan Richardson, wrote in her book of blessings “Circle of Grace” in what she titles “Blessing When the World Is Ending” (a blessing for those moments in our lives when it feels that the world is ending):
“[This blessing] is here simply because there is nothing a blessing is better suited for than an ending, nothing that cries out more for a blessing than when a world is falling apart.
“This blessing will not fix you, will not mend you, will not give you false comfort; it will not talk to you about one door opening when another one closes.
“It will simply sit itself beside you among the shards and gently turn your face toward the direction from which the light will come, gathering itself about you as the world begins again.”
Then there’s a quote from Kabbalah (a set of esoteric teachings to explain the relationship between the unchanging and the mortal): “We receive the light, then we impart the light. Thus, we repair the world.”
Love, not fear
Both of those speak to our part in how 2021 might take shape. Most certainly, we aren’t in control of the virus or the vaccines or of the fallout from racial and political divides. But we can choose to let our light shine, to use the gifts we’ve been given, to be a positive presence, to love. We can choose to be about bridge-building and healing. We can choose not to let fear find a permanent home in our hearts, not let it rule our lives. We can choose not to contribute to fear-mongering. I say all of this fully aware that sometimes we are so overwhelmed that we depend on others to shine a light for us until we can let our own light shine. The World Happiness Report authors are right: We need each other!
Fear points us to where we need to grow spiritually. When a room is dark, we don’t fear it. We turn on a light. When our lives are overwhelmed with fear, we can let that lead us to a choice point. What am I going to do to stop obsessing on the future and live in the now? How can I be present to what is? I don’t need to overcome fear. I need to understand it and get the message to which it’s pointing. Fear, worry, and anxiety are wake-up calls to change something in our lives.
I have so much I still want to process about 2020 and these ongoing questions and concerns. So I’m asking questions such as: What from 2020 do I wish to shed or leave behind? What would I like to carry forward with me into 2021? What did I learn about myself and others throughout 2020? How did I grow? Do I want to change direction in 2021? On what do I want to focus? What brings me joy? Can I add more of that into my life? How am I bringing joy and sharing my light with others?
For now, I want to concentrate on letting my light shine—adding light to the world in whatever ways I can. I urge you to do the same. Shine as brightly as you’re able. And never, ever let other people mess with the dimmer switch on your light. Do not let them drag you down and diminish you. Don’t let them label you or put you in a box. Don’t let them lead you down the rabbit hole.
Let others know, “Hands off my dimmer switch!” Stay in charge of your own light. Let it shine.
Sonia C. Solomonson is a life coach with Way2Grow Coaching and a frequent contributor to Gather magazine. You can find her at way2growcoaching.com, where you can sign up for her monthly e-zine or request a session.