A ladder with greenery near the steps

It has been a hard year.

The turn of the decade was supposed to bring with it a new promise of all the beauty and things still to come. I waited with baited breath for 2020 to come because 2019 had taken so much from me, and I felt there was so little left to hope for. When the clock turned from 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31 to midnight on Jan. 1, 2020, I felt my heart lurch at the idea of endless possibilities and what life could look like in the new year.

However, 2020 has been a hard year. Nobody I know would deny that much. Death has seemed to be around every corner, following each of us in one way or another. There have been wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes. Well-loved celebrities and heroes have been buried.

The world erupted into chaos with the outbreak of COVID-19. The Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum as we continue to protest the systemic murder of unarmed Black people. In America, we continue to navigate the turbulent waters of a drawn-out, particularly brutal election season.

A year that was supposed to bring with it so much hope and wonder has instead felt cruel and painful, lonely and difficult in ways we could not begin to imagine at this time last year. There is nothing I want more than the promise of a new start in a new year.

There is nothing I want more than the promise of a new start in a new year.

This year in particular, the idea of a bright new year full of beauty and possibility seems both a distant dream and a glorious, close hope. While I have no great belief that everything will change with the turn of the year, this year I truly want to. I want to believe that 2021 will be bright, good and all the things we had hoped to find in 2020.

I watched the world both fall apart and come back together in 2020. This year has exposed both the best and worst in humankind: Communities coming together to help those affected by wildfires both in the United States and abroad; people sacrificing their plans and their daily routine to stay home and help flatten the curve of COVID-19; cheers for healthcare and other essential workers each night in cities across the world; marches organized to protest the murder of Black men and women and the victory of Vice President Elect Kamala Harris.

The beauty and the horror of the world has been magnified. Perhaps after the collective suffering we have all endured this year, we will begin to realize the depths of our humanity and fight for the very same humanness of our neighbors.

Perhaps after the collective suffering we have all endured this year, we will begin to realize the depths of our humanity.

As we look toward 2021 with so many lessons learned and so much further to go, my hope is that we can start to believe in the good again. As Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “Though much is taken, much abides.” Without ignoring the brokenness of our own selves and the systems we have created, may we believe in the kindness of our neighbors, their potential, their stories and the goodness that belongs to each of them.

Without neglecting the damage that has been done, may we continue to march closer to equality, healing and unity as a nation. Without bypassing the wounds and the deep hurt that 2020 has brought, let us look forward to the things still yet to come with the promises of a new year.

I am still learning to look for the good. In these difficult days going forward, I will continue to remember what my Grannie Ruth Rowden once wrote on New Year’s Eve 1959. Her words guide me.

“There are some golden pages in this book we are about to close and lay aside. It is with a mixed emotion of regret and relief that time shall close this book. There have been high hours of happiness and love, both physical and spiritual. Even in the darkest hours you have learned and loved and taught others to do the same, but yet, you are filled with regret that you did not fill the pages of 1959 with more beautiful pictures and writings or better things you could have done for fellow men . . .So we lay down the book of 1959 with its dirty pages mingled with golden sketches to pick up and accept the new book of 1960 with its clean white pages unmarked yet by the actions of man . . .What shall you do to keep the pages beautiful and unspotted?”

What have you lost in 2020 or what has caused you grief? What have you gained from this year that you will take with you into 2021?

Image via April and Mike Raymond, Floral Arrangement via Tulips and Twine

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