Open the book…

In just a matter of hours, it is time once again to start anew…to set our sights on new possibilities, to trust new opportunities, to nurture new hopes and dreams as we begin Chapter One of 2022. What?!? In some ways this year has flown by, while in other ways, it’s a lingering reminder of all things 2020. Regardless, there is hopefulness and opportunity in coming out of 2021 and potentially on the other side of this pandemic. Will 2022 possibly bring this to fruition? Who knows? While the history of each of us has always been in our stories, if nothing else, 2021 continues to give all of us unique ways of crafting and sharing our stories, at least for a few more hours. We will sing the song, make the toasts, and hope for the best when in reality, who really knows. But even as we continue to create our stories and synthesize this collective human experience, we crave a look ahead.

The Scottish phrase “auld lang syne” literally means “old long since” or for “old time’s sake.”  After continued reflection and pondering during 2021 “for old time’s sake,” this past year has been personally transformative, pushing me to create better situations while quietly finding ways to assist others. In reality, this mindful practice has kept me more focused on what I consider important. Likewise, the new year ahead offers more sacred opportunities to take the wisdom and experiences of this past year forward “for old time’s sake” in order to build on these foundational lessons. The changes, growth, triumphs, missteps, JOYs, and sorrows of each experience bring fresh and clearer perspective to do better, to do more, to give more, and to love more.

So…as I do each year, I offer this abundant challenge to us all as we open the book of 2022 to:

BE in the moment.

Breathe deep and fortifying breaths.

Encourage one another.

Forgive with grace.

Keep promises.

Forgo grudges.

Apologize.

Share softer answers.

Work to understanding.

Walk more.

Seek adventure.

Smile at strangers(even through your mask).

Examine personal demands.

Think first of others.

Be gentle and kind.

Laugh more.

Help carry burdens.

Cherish inner dreams.

Learn a new skill.

Be bendable and not breakable.

Observe the beauty and wonder of the world.

Ask questions.

Explore options.

Express thanks.

Welcome others.

Speak your love over and over and over again and again and again! 

The spiritual gift of actively living this challenge with grace and gratitude fills the soul with hope as time marches onward. Hope, and new beginnings in particular, constantly and gratefully prevail in all our daily humanness. We are truly more resilient than we often think. The most challenging paths and trails often lead to the most beautiful places. Learning never ends. So, yes, it’s time to open this new book of 2022 and start chapter one in faith, hope, and love as we craft our stories in the coming year. May the new year bring to you and yours bountiful blessings filled to overflowing and may you be a blessing to others as you are being blessed, my friends.  Happy New Year! 🙂

Do you hear what I hear?

Ahhh…’tis the season for marvelous music my friends!  Even in the midst of more pandemic, this time of year is gratefully filled with beloved sounds, carols, voices, instruments, and glorious music ushering in the message and season of celebration.

While talking and laughing with my sis yesterday, she was sharing her intense prep work with her singers–several at the Met, vocal students doing juries, recitals, performances, and more. I reminded her of her very first singing experience (see the picture) at age 3 as a member in The Cherub Choir at Kessler Park United Methodist Church.  Mom literally coaxed her (tears and all) to “boldly and courageously march in the cherub line, stand still, open your mouth, and proudly sing for all to hear!”  Gratefully, she accepted mom’s initial challenge that first time and successfully continues to do so beautifully on a much grander scale for many decades…

We both share a deep and abiding love for all types of music, including Christmas music, and especially carols. When pressed for specifics, two personal favorites come to mind. The first choice is one our grandmother sang often, a French carol called The Holly and the Ivy:

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown;
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing of the choir…

The second carol is one we sing frequently in church (and often on a hiking trail).  Gustav Holst composed the music in 1906, set to Christina Rossetti’s beautiful 1872 poem, In The Bleak Midwinter:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow;
In the bleak midwinter, long ago… (there are two more verses and this final one)

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him; give Him my heart.

Both of these pieces hold deep and personal meaning, but are only two of a long list of favorites. What are your personal favorite Christmas carols/songs to hear, play, and sing during the season? Here’s hoping you experience many extraordinarily beautiful seasonal sounds however you celebrate this time. As you prep and celebrate, please find gentle ways to care for yourself as you care for others, my friends…