The New Year arrived with an entourage of snow, freezing rain, and bone-chilling fog.
Of course it did! What else would you expect after a year that defied an arsenal of adjectives; a year crammed with grievance and grief, fear and frustration?
Still, we answered the call of the woods. The cold morning was swaddled in silence.
The ice-barked limbs of trees reached out like crystal sculptures.
Cedars stood proud in their snow-white robes. Bushes bowed in frozen reverence.
It was a winter feast for the eyes, with tiny twigs and sweetgum balls frosted for dessert.
If you listened, you could hear a deep murmur in it all — not the groaning of age or effort, but an earthly sigh at the splendor of it all.
In such arctic elegance, seeing all the beauty left in the wake of a winter weather watch, my thoughts turned to the previous year.
I searched for signs of grace and comeliness I may have missed in my rush to be rid of it.
The year forced unwanted isolation upon us, but I was fortunate to be quarantined with a friend. We spent more time walking, talking and working together than we ever have.
I learned that even after all these years, the other is still a boundless mystery, and, with a little attention, love will always grow.
We were gifted with another grandchild. Born in the shadows of the COVID count, Penelope is cute and cuddly. She is, like all the little ones born last year, a sign of God’s continuing faith in us.
With no social calendar, I’ve had more time for prayer and contemplation. Actually, I’ve probably always had the time, but over the past months, I’ve found myself making it, wanting it, and, most definitely, needing it.
We just ate the last fresh tomato from 2020. While that may say more about climate change, we did have more time to tend the garden and care for the flowers. We were rewarded with vibrant colors to ward off the dismal gray of the soul, as well as tasty delights to entice us to the sacrament of the table.
We all lost a lot in the past year, some much more than others, but one day we will return to a world of hugs and handshakes, movies, meetings and unmasked faces.
Until then, it is good to count our blessings so that the inevitable shadows of life cannot hide them.