This month's topic for SJT is Reflection, and I'm going to spend a little time reflecting on my OLW for this year, which was Hope. (Here's my post about it from January 1st, 2020. And at that link you can also see all the OLWs - One Little Words - I've chosen since I started picking a word for the year, back in 2009.)
I didn't feel much hope as 2019 was ending, because 2019 was a very bad year for Haiti. We had lockdowns much of the year, before the rest of the world also joined us in lockdown in early 2020. Although 2020 has also been a difficult year, and not just for Haiti, I have found that Hope was a great choice. I picked it because "I decided to take a leap and go against the way things feel, choosing HOPE for 2020. Not because I'm full of hope or see lots of newness or solutions on the horizon to Haiti's political and economic impasse, but because I'm going to have to look outside myself, to seek hope where it's not obvious."
One reason 2019 hit me so hard, though I didn't know it at the time, was that I wasn't healthy physically. I knew I was low on energy and depressed, but I put that down to the situation. I did scold myself mightily for not handling things better, and I continued to do that as 2020 began. At the beginning of the year, we were back at in-person school, and it was one of the best stretches of teaching I had ever had. Because of the weeks and weeks stuck at home, I was so thankful for every day with my students. That lasted until March 19th, when the Haitian government announced that we had two cases of COVID here.
After that my energy levels tanked again, culminating in a collapse in July when, going for a walk with my husband, I absolutely could not take one more step. We inched back to our car (he encouraging me to take 20 steps between rests), and thus began a long series of doctor visits and a hospitalization. It turned out that I had a Vitamin B12 deficiency, and it had been going on for a long time. It explained many physical symptoms I had, but also the long-term depression I had been struggling with (and scolding myself for). I wrote here about how much better I felt after getting this resolved, or at least beginning to get it resolved. The world was still a mess, and I was still in COVID lockdown, but I had myself back to cope with it all.
This "new lease on life" situation made me feel better literally, but it also works as a metaphor. A long-standing mess can be fixed. It really can. I had been struggling with the idea of "growing old gracefully," and wondering what it meant, but it turned out that some aspects of my condition that I had accepted as part of getting older (like lethargy, loss of appetite, and an inability to eat spicy foods), went away completely when my B12 was normal. What other bad thing in our lives, or in the world, that we have decided we have to accept as the way things are might actually be possible to change, and maybe even relatively simply? Talk about a hopeful way to think!
I am more hopeful now than I was when 2020 began, in spite of the challenges of the year. We may be in the dark sometimes, but maybe it's the dark before the sunrise. That's how it feels now.
Here's something else I wrote in my OLW post at the beginning of the year: "Ultimately, though, I don't believe having hope is about me; I think it's about God working in me. In Romans 15:13, Paul writes: 'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.' It's by looking outside myself, by turning to God, that I can have hope this year." That turned out to be absolutely the case.
Another comment I added when writing about the word Hope was that I wanted to think about birds and birding and how those things went with my OLW, since Emily Dickinson wrote, "Hope is the thing with feathers." Here is one of the several times I reflected on this in 2020.
And now I'm thinking about my word for 2021.