A Path of Hope

cc photo by J. Delp

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Dr. Martin Luther King

We’ve nearly made it.

In a few days we will all be celebrating.

I certainly understand the anticipation of a new year, but when the clock strikes midnight early Friday morning, it will not only be the end of 2020, it will be … another day.

It will be Friday. Probably not altogether different than today, or Thursday, or any other day of the week.

I know this probably is not what you want to hear.

It is unlikely our challenges will disappear as we enter the new year. We still have to navigate what is hopefully the final stretch of a pandemic. We have all experienced loss — some minor inconvenience, some significant life interruptions, and some life-altering tragedies. We still need time to grieve those losses and to come to grips with how this pandemic has altered every day life. This process will take time and a return to something that resembles normal would certainly be helpful.

It is my prayer that we have those opportunities for reflection and healing in 2021.

We know our problems will not disappear, but we need the hope that a new year brings. I tweeted this earlier today.

While a new year won’t be the solution to our problems, we can choose to be hopeful.

We can view each day as an opportunity to heal ourselves and demonstrate care for others. We can choose a path of empathy, kindness, and gratitude. We can treat people with dignity and respect, maintain an attitude of thankfulness for what we have, and demonstrate appreciation and empathy for what others have lost. We can choose to walk alongside others — for our sake, and for their’s.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

Mahatma Gandhi

If done right, it will be the collective and caring actions of our society that will provide hope. Not a date on the calendar.

As the new year approaches, choose to walk a path of hope and bring others with you.

This Pandemic is for the Birds

cc photo by J. Delp

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.

Langston Hughes

Birds have been helping me navigate the pandemic.

As a kid, I was always intrigued with birds. I think my fascination began through a shared interest with my Great Grandmother Donley who regularly fed the birds in her Beloit, Kansas yard. I think I remember that the little nuthatch was one of her favorites. Mine too.

In March, me and my dog Kosmo began spending a lot of time on the back patio and we decided we could use some company. Walter, our cat, also needed something to watch during the day. So, I started with a hummingbird feeder (pictured). It was visited by hummingbirds, of course, but also house finches, and a very persistent (and loud) Gila Woodpecker.

After noticing some small birds in a backyard bed of wildflowers, I added several thistle seed feeds and Lesser Goldfinches arrived in droves. Seed cake and suet feeders appealed to the woodpecker, Abert’s Towhee, the Curved-Bill Thrush, and a flock of Rosy-Cheeked Lovebirds who assume the role of backyard bird feeder bullies. As you might imagine, these parrots are not native to Arizona (you can read more about them here). The other day I counted eight different species of birds in our backyard within about thirty minutes.

The birds have been a good reminder that in spite of the challenges and struggles of this year, there are things we can count on being normal. They don’t take away pain, eliminate the virus, or even alleviate sorry. They do serve as a healthy distraction. Nature has a way of doing that, and in the process, acting as a healing salve.

The birds don’t understand there is a pandemic going on. They don’t care about our politics, or our disagreements. They are too busy being birds. Being normal.

And, for me, their vibrant colors, frenetic pace, and pursuit of life represent hope that things will get better. They are a reminder to hold fast to dreams.

Be hopeful. Be safe.

As an aside, if you have any interest in learning more about birds, I have been using the free Merlin Bird ID app by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It is awesome.