My Prayer for 2021:
I believe it was March 2019, Pre-Covid. It’s all rather fuzzy. The moments are piling up and describing them in regards to when they happened is becoming more difficult, trying to extricate them from the pile is too arduous a task. Maybe it doesn’t matter. It happened regardless of when. I was staying with my sister. She had planned a get together for the young ladies of her community and had her daughter invite her friends and spread the word. She gathered poster boards, magazines, coloured papers, felts and pencils of every hue, stickers, jewels, glitter, and glue. She encouraged the girls in attendance to think about who they wanted to become and what their future might look like and make a visual representation. I live 10 hours from my sister and usually fly there. I wasn’t interested in carting an unwieldy poster board onto the plane, but I still wanted to participate in the exercise. A scaled-down version would have to do. At the beginning, my sister handed out a small, sturdy card to be used to record our thoughts and it was just what I needed. Brevity is a good thing. Something I’m not known for. 😀 When one has an excess of goals, one often doesn’t reach any of them. We must hone in on our heart’s desires and leave the periphery lie.
Soon the room was abuzz with the chattering of girls and the flapping of pages and the floor was littered with sparkles and stray slips of paper. I was done quickly, due to the size of my project, but it was fun to walk around and watch the other participant’s boards take shape. We certainly are unique in what we want. As people finished up and began to share their visions for their lives, I sensed a contented spirit in the room. It was clear the evening’s activity was time well spent. Upon my return home, I easily slipped my mini poster into a book for safekeeping and it’s been beside my bed ever since.
I look at it now, in the early days of 2021, and I feel glad and grateful. Despite all the upheaval of this year in particular, my dad’s funeral and the pandemic and its ravaging of our lives, I accomplished what I set out to do. The words I chose to delineate my future, words plucked from old magazines and patched together, I lived them out. I share my small victories with you.
- Hike, Mountains, Adventure, Travel: Those of you who’ve been reading my blog may know I took up mountain climbing in the summer of 2018. Since then, I’ve been up 25 mountains and made some lovely friends as an added bonus. What I mean when I say mountain climbing is hiking to the top of a mountain where there may be a bit of climbing, or what hikers call “scrambling”, involved. It’s exhilarating and addictive: every one an adventure. Despite the pandemic, I continued to hike through the spring, summer, and fall of 2020. We travelled in our own vehicles and hiking at our own pace meant we were sufficiently spaced apart to meet the guidelines. As far as travel is concerned, I was set to fly to San Jose, California in March 2020 to meet my sister for a special retreat. Covid kiboshed that, but my frequent trips to the mountains and a relaxing two weeks with my husband in Fernie, British Columbia (the province next to mine) fed my travel bug adequately.
- Aging well, Eat well, Healthy, Strong, Pretty: For years now, as I’ve become increasingly aware of aging through my work, my experience with my parents, and the failings of my own body, it’s been my desire to age well, to eat healthy and to grow fit and strong. I’ve lost 50 pounds and kept it off. I’m changing my eating habits and I’ve grown to love exercising. I’m washing my face regularly and I’ve taken up flossing, basic habits that should have been well-worn grooves by now, but I’ve always struggled with self-care, so these small improvements are something to celebrate (See Mirror, Mirror). I’m still working on being less sloppy in my appearance and will tackle that in this new year.
- Creativity, Write my Story: In my free time, I’ve chosen to focus on my writing and photography. I have to push myself to write, often it’s a slog, and sometimes I wonder why I do it. Miriam Webster defines a hobby as “an interest or activity engaged in for pleasure.” For me, writing is more work than it’s pleasurable, but when I think about quitting, I can’t do it. Writing forces me to reflect, to slow the moments streaming by and capture a few, encasing them in sentences to make sense of myself and the world. I’m writing myself down, defining myself. I read a book recently that recounted a study done where participants wrote about their trauma and experienced relief and healing. I’ve begun to do this, sifting through my memories from childhood on, putting the hurts of my life, the sharp and painful feelings down on paper and it’s been helpful. I recently received my Dad’s life story, written by him before he passed, and it was an immeasurable gift. He’s motivated me to start printing my blog posts to compile them in a book. Maybe someday my children will be interested in reading their mother’s story.
Photography has become my new passion and I have Instagram to thank for that, even though I’m no longer active on the platform. Hours of fun have been had wandering, snapping photos, and creating images using a photo editor. I didn’t have a proper camera when I created my vision board, but I do now and I’m slowly learning to use it. It does make a difference in the quality of the photos. I’m hoping to get a macro lens in the future, as I’ve discovered that taking closeups is my preference.
- Love: I’m a confirmed introvert. I require time on my own to recharge, but I recognize my need for family and friends and the inclusion of the word love on my vision board was my nod to the importance of my relationships. This year was an adjustment for me as I used to spend my days quietly, when I wasn’t hiking, as my family was out of the house, engaged in their own lives. This year, due to the pandemic, our house was full up continuously with my husband working from home and my young people learning online. People everywhere! This sociable confinement has reminded me of how grateful I am for my family and how I still need to be intentional in connecting with them. I’ve enjoyed special time with each of my family members this year. I’ve been privileged to hike with everyone, but my youngest. She and I share a love for the arts and we connect in that way. I wasn’t nearly as good at connecting with my friends. If I didn’t get outdoors with them, I didn’t connect. I’ve been following the government restrictions, trying to keep the virus out of my home and the hospital where I work and I prefer to meet with people over chatting on the phone or texting. I’m hoping with the arrival of the vaccine and the coming of spring, the Corona Virus will shrivel up and die a gazillion deaths, so I can get back to spending time with friends in the flesh.
- Smile, Fun, Joy: This past year, I actively sought the opportunity to laugh. I stalked people’s profiles on fb who regularly posted funny memes. I watched goofy videos or standup comedy on You Tube. I watched comedy series on Netflix. Now, laughter is easy to locate, but joy is a bit trickier because joy isn’t about circumstances. I believe joy is a byproduct of gratitude and I hope to establish the practice of rehashing my day to parse out reasons to be glad. Of course, the joy of Jesus is present in His presence, regardless of what’s happening around us, which brings me to my last words.
- Grow, Faith: Above all, it’s my desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. After my dad’s funeral in mid January, I decided to download an app and read the bible through in a year. Not that I’ve never done this before, but my bible reading in the last couple of years has been focused on the New Testament, sampling books randomly, whatever I felt like reading at the time. Using the bible app by Olive Tree was a positive experience for me. It didn’t require data. As long as I had my phone, and we’re people of the phone now, I could pull it up wherever I was and do devotions. There are numerous plans to choose from, it offers a daily portion of scripture to read, so there are no decisions to make, and it displays your progress. It was a good feeling to come to the end and receive congratulations, but more than that, it was good to be disciplined. The app informed me when I was behind, keeping me accountable. I also began a practice of prayer and meditation, more of a listening to God, which is something my church has been encouraging us to do. I’ve always tried to pray without ceasing, reaching out to God throughout my day, but taking the time to rest and listen has been challenging and rewarding. I’ve asked God to grow the fruit of His Spirit in me and to show me evidence of his work, that I may be prompted to praise Him. I’m experiencing a period of growth, refreshment, and intimacy with God that I haven’t for awhile. I view all my modest gains this past year through the lens of His goodness and grace.
Lately, this C.S. Lewis quote has been poking me in my prayer time:
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
We were meant to be so much more than we are, to experience life in a renewed, profound, and fulfilling way, but if we desire this, we must let go of the notion that we’re capable of it on our own. My plan for this year:
- To humble myself, submit, and acknowledge my dependence on God in all things. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
- To pursue Him above all else. James 4:8a says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” What a mind-blowing thought and a great comfort! As the hymn writer Charlotte Elliot said, “Just as I am. I come.”
- To commit myself and my plans to Him, following the directive of Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed”, remaining mindful of Jesus prayer to the Father in Luke 22:42b, “not my will, but yours be done”.
My dad had the chance to tour the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama, USA where Martin Luther King Jr. pastored and where his activism began. The sanctuary happened to be empty and my dad took the opportunity to stand in the pulpit, the preacher he was, and call out in his baritone voice those famous words, “I have a dream!” What he didn’t expect was his words reverberating off those polished, hardwood floors and returning back to him, strong and clear, “I have a dream”. He was shocked. Had he, all this time, been going about his own plans, busily building his own kingdom, ignoring God’s dream, God’s dream for him and for the world? I look at my dad’s life and believe he was very much about God’s dream for him and the world. God says, “I have dream”, so I’m asking Him to help me stop mucking about in the slums with the mud pies and start making my way seaside. May it be so. 🙂
Feature picture: Polly’s Vision Board
Picture of me on the mountain by Deb Firth
Flower Picture by Polly Mayforth Krause
Cartoon Polly by Bitmoji
All other pictures by Pixabay
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