The new year didn’t come with bravado. Absent were the usual fireworks extravaganzas that most look forward to, whether at public displays or on TV. Absent, too, were the parties and assemblies; most, if not all, cancelled due to restrictions stemming from the rising pandemic cases everywhere. Family celebrations had to be curtailed to a few or less representations. But 2022 came anyway. It came with a promise. It came with hope. It sneaked up on us like a new dawn.
2021 was a challenge in many ways primarily due to the onset of COVID variants. But that does not deter us from realizing the fact that we have reached 2022, and we have been favored with God’s protection. Thus, we leave 2021 with full gratitude for our benevolent Father’s loving care, for He is ever faithful and gracious.
I see 2022 with promise and hope. Don’t you?
2022, the birth of a new dawn (Photo by Mary France Kim Pandes)
For me, the new year didn’t come with a bang, but it came with a gentleness and an endearing warmheartedness. In the first week of January, I reconnected with dear friends I had no contact with in over five years, but for a brief hello during a crowded memorial service in church before the pandemic. One couple has been extremely important to my deceased husband and me when we hosted for 12 years in our home a closely knit bible study group. Tom and Marion Recine were our faithful and diligent teacher and prayer leader respectively. While everyone in our study felt spiritually nourished by their teaching and example, I personally felt I “grew up” as a believer, having learned much about the nature and character of God in our discussions, sharing of experiences and prayer requests – and about Jesus’ sacrificial love. The fellowship was genuinely supportive and caring, an extended family that I sorely missed. For 12 consecutive years, under Tom’s guidance, every book in the bible was studied from Genesis to Revelation. Quite memorable, too, were the gatherings this couple hosted at their Bear Valley and Palo Alto Hills homes. With great amusement I remember the lobster and crab fests during which everyone gave my husband the green and yellow slob because to him, that was the best part of the crustacean. I totally agreed with him. I enjoyed some of that, too. After 12 years, many of the young participants married and moved out of state.
This week, Tom and Marion came by. While on a relaxing stroll to Bill’s Café at the corner, we engaged in catching up on all that had transpired in the years we hadn’t seen each other. It was an animated exchange punctuated by occasional blurts of “Oh!” and “Huh?” and “Really!?”. All the stories that spilled out in two hours were of utmost interest. And two hours not being enough, we decided to meet at least once a month – to make it more fun, over a meal indoors or outdoors. I look forward to more stories and more nostalgic reminiscences in February – I particularly want to say, I love listening to Marion, a vivacious, warmhearted lady and lively storyteller that never seems to get a day older.
Then, there’s another couple I hadn’t seen or spoken to since my husband passed six years ago. Sigi and Heinz moved to San Diego, not really very far from Palo Alto. Yet, we lost contact with each other. A few days ago, I spoke with this couple over the phone, and it was like old times again. Heinz started to reminisce about our 12-year home bible study and, for some reason, picked up on fun and funny moments that sizzled laughter and that, I admit, felt so good. The memories were so vibrant, that it didn’t seem that long ago when they left the Bay Area. Heinz recalled some enjoyable highlights, like the weekend retreats our fellowship spent in their cabin at Bear Valley. And of course, I remember well Sigi and Heinz’s gracious hosting of our gatherings in their lovely backyard garden in Los Altos, where right on their patio we spent hours learning cha-cha steps to the beat of a hummed samba.
Maybe, this is what we’re supposed to do at the beginning of a new year – look back at fond memories and be grateful for them; they seemed like it was just yesterday. Like 2021 was just yesterday.
The bridge to 2022 was delightful for me. Celebrating my birthday with family close to Christmas and before the end of 2021 was a perfect segue to the new year. The dinner was exquisite. But most enjoyable was the company — time spent in lively conversation with my son John, daughter-in-law Natasha, grandson Eliott, niece Shirley and nephew-in-law Craig. The stories bubbled like sparkling cider on a cold night warmed by outdoor heating lamps and the shimmers of holiday multicolored bulbs that lined the poolside, the path to the restaurant and spotlighted the trees around the establishment. Spectacular and festive. Leading to the new year were my son and his family’s plans for us to travel to LA to visit my daughter Joy and my son-in-law Matt. And this week, my daughter and her husband are moving to a charming Hermosa Beach home with a gorgeous view, two blocks from shore. Excitedly, I look forward to that visit, one of the many lovely things to do in 2022.
For me, connecting with old friends and enjoying more wonderful family times are among the many joys of 2022.
Gratitude for what was then readies us to meet the promise of the new year. We greet 2022 with optimism and hope, trusting that our God will always have our backs – guiding us through the ease and difficulties, through the triumphs and failures – so that we might emerge victorious.
Happy, Blessed New Year again, everyone!