What a year! These 366 days. They came at us like roiling storm clouds. One freaking squall after another. At times I have felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, running for the backyard hole-in-the-ground before the tornado hits. My own storm shelter is made of blankets, which I pull over my head. I close my eyes, cover my ears and go “na-na-na-na-na.” Apparently kindergarten is still in session our house.
Obviously, in ways stark to slim, this year will not leave us where it found us. We are forever changed. At whiplash speed. Sure we’re all in this together, considering we live on the same planet, but it sure seems like we’re riding out the storm in different boats. The immensity of the issues that confront us, personally and as earth-dwellers, is overwhelming and I can go into a dark funk just thinking about it.
But through all the darkness of 2020 there have been flashes of sunshine. And stars and a rainbow or two. So when I’m not hiding under the covers, I change the conversation and direct the self-talk to what I’m called to do. Right now. Right here. This helps me be with today’s mess as if I’m peering through a wider lens. Like what do things look like from a hundred miles up? From two years from now? So I choose doing because ruminating is making me crazy.
This quote, “Grit, grace, gratitude,” is pressed under the plastic coverlet on my desk. I stuck it in a place where I would see it every day. Next to my computer. These are the words of Gwen Ifill, the late, dearly beloved journalist who passed away in 2016. When I first heard them, something inside went ding-ding-ding. They have served me well in the last 366 days.
And here we are—at the cusp of a new year. Does it feel like we are being drop-kicked into 2021?
But there is the sunshine part too: My zoom classes and gigs have been a miracle of technology and heart. We are helping each other endure, to make it through. And we’re doing it together, inviting total strangers over an invisible threshold into our own corner of the world–a living room, dining room, bedroom, office, cubby hole, garage, closet, kitchen, under a tree, in a car, into our life.
For me, this is grace made visible. And grit (are you woodshedding that Bb chord?) And gratitude (for waking up this morning). Singing and playing together, it changes the conversation. No matter our differences.
I’ve shared my ukulele fantasy with many of you: By executive order, every member of Congress is issued a ukulele. Nothing fancy or high end. They hire a patient and politically-neutered teacher to show each Democrat, Republican, Independent, how to strum three chords: C, F and G7. In tempo! They learn to play and sing one chorus and verse of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.” Each senator and representative must practice five minutes every day. Alone and with a colleague from across the aisle. When they all show up for an important vote… Well you can see where this is going. They have to do Woody Guthrie FIRST. Ya think more legislation would pass?
Yeah, I know… In my dreams. Well maybe Congress can’t change the conversation. But you and I can.
So here’s a toast to grit, grace and gratitude. To a change of heart, to enduring, to kindness and to the healing power of music! We will need them all in the new year.
If you would like more information about my three weekly Zoom ukulele classes, please log onto my website by CLICKING HERE.