2021.

Some Thoughts on 2021

I wrote something for my grade 12, drama class in March of this year, It was a monologue to end a show we created on the pandemic. Let me share it with you,

When Joe Biden was inaugurated, A young, fierce Black woman gave the nation a poem. She declared that even as we grieved we grew, but I just don’t see it yet. I see the grief, loud, screaming some days, the remarkable poignancy of all we have lost in the last year, but why can’t we seem to see the growth? Before I continue let it be made clear that what I am about to say does not in any stretch diminish the 2.73 million people who died a death reduced to an anecdote about a virus, and an ever-growing statistic, but COVID-19 is far from the only pandemic plaguing society. Hopelessness. Since lockdown measures have been put in place, the youth in mental health wards for suicidal ideations in Ontario have quadrupled. Many of them are the people we know, some the people we love. Hopelessness Hatred. In a year, there have been nearly 1000 reports of Anti-Asian racism in Canada. Far greater numbers of anything we have come to know, and those are just the cases reported. Not to mention the realities of anti- Black and Indigenous racism coming to light. Hatred Division. Masks or no, lockdown or not, liberal or conservative, left or right, up or down, yes or no, hate or love. We argue like our lives depend on it. We still haven’t pulled it together to give peace a chance. Division Death. Its sting is so real. Whether it be suicide, by virus, by the fallout of lockdowns, by crimes of division. An old hymn I used to sing triumphantly declares, oh death, where is thy sting? Today, this is a declaration I struggle to give. Death Hopelessness, Hatred, Division, Death Can’t we just grow, I’ve had enough of this grief.

These words were birthed out of a place of hopelessness for the world around us, and I can see how anyone who come to this same conclusion in they took 2021 at face value.


After this piece was written in April, we saw the beginning of unmarked grave discoveries on Residential School grounds across Canada. We saw a Canadian election that resulted in very little change, we have seen new strains of a virus that makes no sense to the human eye, we have seen everything about our world become deeply politicized and remarkably polarizing.


In July I moved from Ontario to New Brunswick, as I took time to heal and process my tune on 2021 changed.


If I wrote the piece I shared earlier now, it would sound a little something like this.

When Joe Biden was inaugurated at the beginning of 2021, Amanda Gorman shared a poem that struck a chord with me. She shared that “as we grieved we grew”. What a powerful testimony. This year the world has faced the unimaginable. In a society that has become deeply politicized, it seems no matter what you do you are vulnerable. Go outside, you are vulnerable to being hit by a virus that I wish I could explain, a virus that is very real but is also deeply political. Stay inside, and become vulnerable to the creeping virus of hopelessness. Everything about 2021 has been remarkably divisive. This year the world has faced the unimaginable. We have faced realities we have buried in the back of history textbooks with the discovery of what is now thousands of unmarked graved, Indigenous children stolen from their homes who were never returned. The world has faced the unimaginable, and the results have been catastrophic. A report that came out last week detailed an 88% increase in opioid overdose in Canada in the last year. Across Canada, the average age of people being admitted to hospitals for suicidal ideations has dropped, as people younger and younger are being hit by hopelessness, and the number of people under 18 admitted to hospitals for mental health crises has over quadrupled. It would be so easy to look at 2021 and be maimed by grief. To be taken out for the count, but somewhere along the journey this year I come to realize that grief is not a sentencing to death, but an avenue to hope. There is room to grieve what 2021 was, what was lost, what will never be returned- but grief is not a place to stay stuck. In 2021 the world experienced the unimaginable. It would be easy to get trapped in the sting of death, in the dark place. But there is hope, in a vacant grave that conquered death, in a light at the end of the tunnel, in a lamp that you can just flick on that will vanquish darkness. When the sun goes down each night, it is with the promise that it will rise again. So we grieve because that is where we grow. We experience the dark because the light is so much sweeter on the other side.

2021, thank you for teaching us to look to The Light.

 
Some Reflection On 2021

How do I comprehend that which seems so incomprehensible?


How do I make sense of a year that even as I peel back layer after layer I just find more chaos and confusion?


These are the questions sitting on my brain with the nagging nature of a 3-year-old testing every limit. These are the questions that have fuelled my reflection on 2021.


2021 was complicated. It is the only word I can think to describe it, in my recap posts of years past I described years as beautifully defeating, precious, defining, and most recently 2020 as unorthodox and the hardest year of my life.


2021 was like a year that occurred in a different universe compared to years past, it’s like a 100 000 piece puzzle and I am still in the sorting the pieces stage, I haven’t even begun to build the border let alone piece together the substance, the middle of the puzzle.


So I took this year and I simplified, I stripped it back to shapes and colours- I journaled through memories, I picked out common themes.


I saw the ever appearing thread of God’s grace and goodness woven through each decision, each heartache, each victory. I saw God breath life into me when I thought I was down for the count. He called me to get up out of the grave I was inhabiting as if I was Lazarus. I saw Him weep and dance with me.


I saw the battle for my mind, the battle to feel safe. The battle to understand my place in this world, and the eventual realization that I can’t fight this alone, simply because it isn’t a battle to fight.


I saw myself uproot and replant, I saw what I am now understanding as begrudging obedience to the will of the Father, and I came to understand where I am now.


What I came to understand of where I am now is that I have no idea where I am. I keep coming back to this quote from Gilmore Girls (unsurprisingly) that states “we’re almost there & nowhere near it. All that matters is we’re going”.


I am coming to realize that now knowing is usually better. It allows me to not expect things to go the way I want them to. It allows me to relinquish the control that was never mine to begin with. It allows me to not need to comprehend a year that feels remarkably chaotic. It affords me the ability to simply find joy in today, and not live for yesterday or for tomorrow.


As I peeled back 2021 into shapes in colours, I was reminded of the deep joy that comes from community. I saw that somewhere in the middle of this year my greatest memories transitioned from being the big things, to the little everyday joy.


As I seek clarity on the last season of my life, I am understanding that not understanding the why and the how is all I can do to keep my head above water. To move forward without obsessing over knowledge and clarity that is not mine to hold will only lead me down a path I am not meant to walk down.


So I trust. The arguably hardest thing for me to do in this season.


I trust God that He is in control, and even when I don’t understand it, because everything about Him is bigger than my understanding- His ways, His thoughts, His vision, all of it is bigger and greater than I can comprehend. Trusting Him is the easiest trust I can have because He has never failed me.


And somehow I trust people. I trust that I can be vulnerable, I trust that I can come out of hiding and be me, and the hurt that inevitably will come with that someday will have a minimal sting, because I know who God is and I know who He says I am, which is so much greater than knowing who I am on my own.


2021 was complicated, but I am safe, I am held, I am not a victim, I am loved, I am free.


A Message To 2022

I don’t love all this new year new me stuff, but what I do love is hope.


2022, please be kind.


Jesus, take the wheel.


 

All My Love,

Em