Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year 2009...

This week, as I prepared to dig myself out of the snow one more time and return to work, I found myself reflecting upon our traditional January greeting of "Happy New Year!".

For very many people, the New Year is a time of bright hopes and possibilities, of fresh starts and clean pages. However, for family caregivers and helping professionals overwhelmed with compassion fatigue or chronic sorrow, this is rarely the case. The thought of another year stretching into the distance brings exhaustion, anguish and unanswerable questions.  Can I keep going? How? When will the losses and suffering end?

For these folks, the New Year means summoning yet more strength and courage from a well long dry.  It asks of those already drained to "go over the top" one more time like soldiers in trenches from wars gone by.

If you are facing the New Year from such a depleted place, I invite you to make this time of beginnings an opportunity to ask for help. To call a trusted friend, a case manager, a spiritual advisor, a grief counsellor, or another caregiver to ask for support. Choose someone who will listen without judgement or "fixing" and who will help you to clarify what it is that you need. Let your New Year begin with the glimmer of hope that can come when we honestly acknowledge our situations and surrender to asking for help.

John O'Donohue, one of my favourite Celtic writers, wrote a beautiful book of blessings called, The Space Between Us, before his untimely death in mid 2008.  His Blessing for a New Year could easily have been written especially for caregivers.

A Blessing for the New Year

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The gray window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the curragh of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

John O'Donohue  (2008)

Blessings to you in 2009!




No comments: