The New Year is a doorway. Sometimes we can walk through doorways without a thought, our feeling and thinking not affected in any way. But it can be useful to pause and think about what has changed. What in the old space supported us and what stifled us? Is this new air, new light a benefit or a hindrance? Are we freer now, or did we carry all our burdens through the door with us.
January is named for the Roman God Janus – the two faced god who looks backward and forward. In his honor and with his inspiration, I will take a moment to do the same.
2016 did mark some breakthroughs for me. At various points in the year, I took on new roles with the Brotherhood of the Phoenix – in January in a new ritual role and over the Summer in an administrative role. Lately, however, I feel like our local group has fallen into a slump. In the regular cycle of these things, we are due for a changeover in leadership in a few month. Hopefully, that will shake us out of these doldrums.
I also gave another talk to The Owen Society for Hermetic and Spiritual Enlightenment over the Summer and helped lead the opening ritual for Chicagoland Pagan Pride in September. These were points of experience on my Pagan Path that I reflect upon in this blog.
But, with the Orlando shooting and the election results, as well as the string of celebrity deaths and other public tragedies, lots of people are having a difficult time. Many of my friends have had deaths in their families as well as illnesses and other challenges. I have been facing my father’s increasing dementia, which has been a different kind of loss and worry. And on top of this, I’ve had a shoulder issue that has caused chronic pain.
When it comes to our political situation and my personal challenges, I don’t see 2017 holding out hope of dramatic improvements. On the contrary, the trend toward bigotry has been strong and looks likely to continue. Environmental protections will likely be stripped away, even now as a wave of disastrous effects of our irresponsibility are beginning to manifest on the world.
I am feeling alone and frustrated personally. I am feeling like people don’t hear or respond. I understand the urge to hide. I sympathize with the desire to avoid the realities facing us. We all need to take time away sometimes to care for ourselves, but there’s a limit when self-care turns into avoidance.
I shared this exhortation below on my personal Facebook page, and I think it’s worth sharing here again. Can we make being present for one another part of the new reality in 2017?
Can I exhort you all?
Stay connected. Not just online, but especially in person. Don’t hide in your home binge-watching on Netflix.
We need one another. Now is not the time to forget about one another and become cut off from the world.
Don’t just say, “let me know if you need anything” – make a plan to get together (and stick to it).
Do something that allows you to really talk to one another. And open up about what’s really going on.
Let me be clear: I’m not talking here about going out to increase spending to grow the economy. Being present for one another doesn’t require much, if any, money – but it takes some time and some effort.
Fear and grief are real, but isolation is not the solution.