Tonight I watched silently as the fireworks went off.
I enjoyed a new year’s on my own.
The repetition of each year is very meaningful to me. I sense the beauty of repetition. Even though I am living in a new place, I can somewhat reasonably expect that the seasons on holidays will occur in the same order that they did last year. I look forward to a new year of quiet winter evenings, the Lenten season, Easter, spring, summer, and Christmas again.
In Gaza, the New Year’s celebrations were cancelled due to the Israeli invasion adn the refusal to cease fire. The much needed supplies could not arrive from the UN. The new year comes despite these events – even though there is no celebration in Gaza. The new year still comes even though I sit here by myself as my kitten runs around with her new jingling mouse toy.
This year, the world’s official time keepers (I know not yet where they reside or who they are) added one second to the clocks. Due to the change in climate, the tidal patterns have changed causing the earth’s rotation to slow down.
This time keeping that we rely upon has never been completely perfect. We still fill in leap years every four years, so why not add a second every year while we’re at it?
Today, actually yesterday (as it is officially past midnight) I spent my morning reading and researching while I could have been working on my German course. Then I went for a run, because if I went later in the day the windchill would’ve frozen my cheeks past their pink shiny glow. Then I went grocery shopping because the store closed early and I didn’t want to sit idling in rush hour traffic (is there a Rush hour on New Years?). Throughout the day I kept looking at the clock. The hours kept passing by so quickly. Each time I looked I felt guilty that I should’ve been doing something more important.
I did get to my German. I even finished the chapters’ assignment. This is how I decided to spend my last evening of 2008. Now the time has rolled over and I still sit here. I am blessed to have this moment – and maybe another year (that is a lot more than a moment).
May we all savour this moment and the ones that build upon it as they collect into days; and cherish the days as they shape the seasons; and learn from the repetition of the seasons as they form another year. May we hold the tension of looking back and learning from the past as we look forward, and be where we are.
I remember French braids, the pink and purple shirts stamped with various sponge shapes and detailed with fabric paint from small tubes. We always rushed onto the big yellow bus in a hurry to get to the front seats – we thought that they were the most popular (little did we know). The ride began after church on a Sunday afternoon. We were all excited to be at the lake, just us best friends in charge of ourselves for the week. The landscape moved from paved straight six –lane highway to the narrow winding highway flanked by rocky piles. We peered out the window and compared the outcrops and road cuttings getting more and more excited by our destination.
Sitting at the front, we had access to up to the minute information from the adults. We knew we were close because of the rocks and lakes, but we did not know how close. There was an adult sitting across from us in the other front seat, so we asked him the typical question heard from children on a road trip: “Are we there yet?”
We got an answer that we didn’t expect. My parents would look at a map and say . . . “well, we have this far to go”, or, “it will be another 25 minutes dear”. This man simply said, “We’re here now”.
We didn’t like this answer so we kept asking him “Are we there yet?” Each time he would patiently reply with the same answer, so we sat back down calmly in our seats and continued to look out our window at the rocks and lakes looking for signs of our special lake.
As I got ready today, I had his simple words running through my mind over and over, just like on that day on the bus to camp. I can still hear the inflection in his voice . . . “We’re here now.”
I’m here now. I wake up to the sounds of drilling, digging and constructing just over the building beside mine. I’m here now. I put on my running shoes and head out into the hallway and down the elevator for a run to the lake. I’m here now. I look across the silvery waves and know that I’m not a couple of provinces away from my family, but they’re just across the way. I’m here now.
So many significant events have happened in last year. Incorporating these changes takes time. Each small moment builds on top of another to create a new home. Home is not just our small apartment. I learned this when living in Edmonton. Home is where I bring myself over and over and become present to each moment. I felt most at home atop a mound overlooking the North Saskatchewan river valley and the wide expanse. I stopped atop this spot at least two times a week for 3 years and gave thanks for another day. Through the repetition and being present, I developed a strong connection to that place.
In this new city I will continue to have patience and presence.
The snow has just begun to settle across the Toronto landscape. It began to fill the cracks in the sidewalks as I was at work. As I locked up the store and walked to the subway the snow covered the sidewalk. I went from subway to streetcar – the white blanket was covering the side streets. There is a different view out my window this night. The view has dimmed and calmed. The white haze is in the air. The lights aren’t as bright. This is the calm of the first snow before the rush of all the Christmas shoppers that will enter my store.
This time last year, I was looking through an old window with two separate panes. The outside pane had a large gap along the frame which let a lot of cold air in, so I went to the local Canadian Tire to purchase some plastic. I wanted to keep the heat in my room. It was a large window and I tried to seal it off. To my luck it didn’t work. The difference in temperature between the two panes caused a beautiful design on my window that I will never forget. The effect was intensified as the temperatures outside dropped below -20. My room and the inside pane was about 30 degrees warmer. The south-facing window did not get warmed too much by the sunlight and gave a chance for snowflake patterns to frost on my window. The sun reflected through.
Tonight I enjoy the wintry haze through my sealed window – no draft pouring through, no sparkling rays.
Waking up. Less than an hour to get ready for work and do a few household tasks – sort and start the laundry. I busy myself with my morning routine of making the bed, showering, eating breakfast while making lunch and putting mascara on. When one makes a habit of hitting the snooze button, multi-tasking becomes a very proficient skill. Unfortunately, my eye scans the apartment. In the corner, underneath the reading chair is a pile of dirt. Two green sprouts stick out. They’ve been growing for a few months now, only to be toppled over by a curious kitten who has taken advantage of having the run of the place while I was sleeping.
I can’t let all that hard work and care for this struggling tree go to waste. In the five minutes before I leave I grab my broom and sweep up the dirt, gently placing each of the two little sprouts back in the pot.
A few days later, I go to water it. I see a few strands of my hair poking out of the pot. I swept up more than just dirt.
I step off the subway and a breeze speeds through the tunnel as the cars drop off their passengers and head in their opposite directions. The wind catches my hair in a flurry and swirls across my face. My eyes are rubbed closed in a circular motion. A faint smile catches my lips.
I am surprised at myself. I proceed up the escalator and the wind continues as if to say “there may be no leaves above you, but there is still benevolence underground. The peace that one has among the trees can also be found amongst concrete.