Whilst Christmas is a time for celebration and rejoicing, it also provides a time for reflection.
As we come towards the end of 2020, it has without doubt been one of the most challenging years for all of us.
Embroiled in the storm of 2020, we’ve been buffeted from one crisis to the next. The hardships, stress and loss that we’ve faced have meant that we’ve all struggled to stay safe and maintain any sense of normality.
Straining to make her voice heard over the wind, the reporter shouts directly to camera, “You need to take cover immediately, get yourself underground. It won’t be good if you’re above ground!”
Running through the house now. Down the basement stairs. Into the corner under some shelves.
Sitting, trembling, knees pulled in tight under your chin. The storm is louder than ever. Like a freight train going directly over the house, the whole world is shaking violently, ferociously.
Suddenly, everything goes black. The sound of shattering glass. You feel the glass splinters hitting the top of your head. Shelves fall. The floor above you rattles. You can feel the wind now rushing through the basement…
At first you hadn’t believed it would come. Not now. Not to your community. Not when you’d worked so hard to build the life you had always wanted.
The rumours of the hurricane had surfaced weeks ago. People had spent their spare time researching the storm, watching the news bulletins as it churned over the ocean. There’s always some kind of wind out here, and predictions of its severity had been made, ranging from “typical for the season”, to a “superstorm”.
They’d said the chances of such a destructive force actually arriving on your doorstep were less than one in a hundred. And yet it came.
They’d said things like this didn’t happen to people like you. And yet it did.
They’d come to call it a hundred-year storm…
As the wind continues to rage, the sound of who knows what impacting against the side of your home. Suddenly, deafening silence, just silence. It’s never silent out here, the wind is always there. You wait, unsure if the storm is over, uncertain of the state of the world outside the confines of your small room.
And that’s when – they call them rollers – it’s then that the rollers come, and all hell breaks loose. The roar is deafening. Relentlessly they hit, you lose all sense of time, all sense of direction.
Finally, after who knows how long, it subsides.
Cautiously you emerge from the basement. Cars strewn all over, the odour of gas wafting through the air.
Stepping through the debris. Sparks flying. There’s walking wounded. Dogs barking. People crying, running, shouting.
For a moment it seems like your whole life has gone. Whatever you had before is gone forever.
A lady walks by… you recognise her face as someone who lives on an adjacent street. You’d sometimes see her at the local shops. Most of the houses in the immediate area are either massively damaged or destroyed, but hers is still standing. She says she’s struggling with guilt because her neighbours’ homes weren’t spared.
But for now, it seems to have passed, so it’s a matter of putting your gloves on and getting to work. What else can you do?
Picking up strewn pieces of wood, furniture, damaged household objects,… in amongst it all a single page from a book caught in the breeze lands at your feet.
It has the authors name at the top, Haruki Murakami, the text on the page reading,
Just like any difficult period of our lives, maybe each of us that comes through the storm of 2020 won’t be the same person as the one who walked in.
Whilst we should rightly approach life ‘after the storm’ with a degree of caution, perhaps there’s also a growing case for optimism. In amongst the loss and hardship, there lies a chance to take stock and explore how we might begin building afresh.
Hard times often bring out the best in human beings; a greater sense of community, rapid scientific advances, and new exciting worlds to explore.
Of course, we’ll still need to take care. Many people will still need our help, but as we offer that help, we’re also given the chance to forge deeper and more meaningful relationships with those around us.
No doubt, 2021 will bring with it new challenges, new perspectives, and new opportunities. A chance to consciously choose what kind of life we want to craft going forwards.
As the storm finally passes, we’ll be gifted fresh eyes that we’ll need to fight hard to keep.