Thursday, December 05, 2019

Spiritual Journey Thursday: OLW 2019

Our theme this month for Spiritual Journey Thursday requires us to revisit the One Little Word we chose for 2019. So the first thing I did was go back and read my post from the beginning of the year. Here it is. My OLW was Possibility. I quoted Henri Nouwen and Nichole Nordeman and Emily Dickinson and Pharrell Williams and the Bible, and just generally went on and on in a fashion that now makes me roll my eyes at the irony of it all. A better word for 2019 would have been Impossibility. As I start to consider words for 2020, perhaps Impossibility should be my choice, or Despair, or maybe Futility.

I mean, sure, we made the best of it this year. As we went through week after week of lockdown and political unrest and stress (just scroll through the year's posts for evidence), we, my colleagues and I, did our best to keep teaching (in disrupted days, then half days, then distance learning). We learned about the intricacies of Google Classroom and adapted lessons. I read lots of books and watched birds in my yard. I wrote updates in email and on Facebook and tried to keep Haiti in people's minds. I spent extra time with my husband and son and rode the exercise bike and attempted to maintain my mental health. I invited near neighbors over and served them chai. I wrote poems and short stories. I encouraged my students and their families as much as I could.

And last week, a lot of schools in Haiti opened, some for the first time this school year. (Here's an article in English about it and here's one in French.) And that's great. But only about a quarter of the kids were there; parents were cautious and scared, and there were still threats against the safety of students venturing out. Schools recommended that their pupils not come in uniform, since uniforms draw attention. Are you getting the picture that schools opening doesn't mean that things are back to normal?

While I recognize that difficult times help us grow spiritually, I am also sad that so many children have missed so much school this year. Children get one childhood, and it's already short. And school is only one aspect of the disruption in Haiti. Health care and the economy have been affected, too. There's a looming food crisis. There's been violence and fear. I'm not quite ready to wrap up this year with a bow and say it was all OK. (Please don't hear me making political statements or taking sides; I don't know the solutions to Haiti's problems, of which there are many.)

If you read my post from January, you'll see that I wrote about how some of the possibilities for the year were always negative. I used the metaphors of tornadoes and earthquakes (and earthquakes are not always metaphors in these parts). It didn't take any prescience to envision yucky possibilities for the year; we were already in the throes of political crisis when 2019 began. It just kept getting worse, and as the year ends, it's not resolved.
And yet. It isn't wrapping it all up with a bow to say that God never let go of me in 2019. In spite of everything. Even on the worst days. Listen to Andrew Peterson's song (and read the lyrics on the screen in the video), and that's my testimony too.

Irene has our roundup today.


SW said...

Love your post! I love you more than ever.

Irene Latham said...

Dear Ruth - you are a beacon, esp. during this most difficult year... you are so right about children only getting one childhood, and that is truly something to despair... and yet, even children who have experienced horrors often are able to find (and remember) joy. Which is why YOU are so important. You are someone's joy. You are my joy, too! xo

Karen Eastlund said...

Dear Ruth: Thank you for your honesty and endurance throughout such a difficult year. I can only imagine how hard it has been for you. I send my hopes, prayers and wishes for peace and freedom... for miracles in Haiti. You have been strong and faithful, and you have my deepest respect.

Ramona said...

Oh, what challenges you've faced and are facing. And yet in spite of it, you're still there clinging to possibilities for things to get better and being available as much as you can for those you teach. Something tells me they lean on you as you've leaned on your faith to "never let go" this year. Thanks for sharing the song. The music our group shares is one of my favorite parts of Spiritual Journey Thursday.

Carol Varsalona said...

"After all these years I would have thought my fears laid to rest...the mess is still there but you never let go..." Love this song and your testament, Ruth. I can't even imagine your struggles and how they have played out for children. It is beyond my scope of fears and struggles so I continue to keep you lifted in prayer. It is so important that we never let go. As I was reading, I thought some would have left but your family has stayed and faith is keeping you strong. Thank you for being open with us.

C. Green said...

Here's to a better 2020! (M)