Dear Hope,

Someone I admired very much used to say “always hope.”

On days like today where the fog seems unbearably thick, I try to cling on to that.

On days where the world’s problems seem too big to ever be solved. Where your role in this world seems incredibly insignificant, possibly even pointless.

On days where the way out of pain seems too long and you cannot see the light at the end of it yet. When the fog is obscuring that light completely. How can you know it is still there?

When there are so many thoughts running through your head that you wish for some kind of sleep just to find darkness and peace within it.

There must still be hope. You can ground yourself in the firmness beneath your feet or the openness of the sky above you. The sky is still there, the ground is still holding you up. There are still sounds of the regular day like wind, cars driving by, birds, footsteps. Whatever it may be. That regular rhythm is still out there if you listen closely enough. Look up at the sky and remember that it is still there and will continue to be for as long as you look up and see it.

No matter how foggy your world seems.

There is always something or someone in this big, big world of ours. There is something or someone out there. You just have to look up, or reach out.

Always hope.

Dear Garden,

Sometimes you see a baby squirrel.

The world is a scary place to be these days. The bad news is endless and our bodies and minds are struggling to keep up with the demands of daily life, which seem a lot more insurmountable than they did just a couple years ago. We are in a space where it can be very hard to get through the day. At least that’s how I feel most of the time.

The last few days of my life have been dominated by anxiety and fear and exhaustion. I start my days pretty slowly and without much enthusiasm, I have to admit. But today I went out in the garden and saw a red squirrel. And from underneath that squirrel emerged a tiny little baby squirrel (I found out after extensive squirrel research that they are called kittens!). The squirrels played around in the tree for a little bit, the kitten always close behind his mother. It was adorable. I might be overreacting, but that baby squirrel (kitten seems confusing just now) saved my day. Maybe it even saved my whole week. While I was watching it explore its home for the first time, feeling safe under its mother’s protection, I felt safe too. That little guy has no concept of what is going on outside our garden, probably not outside his nest in our tree. He was cute, innocent and perfect.

Someone once said something along the lines of “if you are looking for miracles just stop in nature.” Sometimes I’m too cynical to appreciate this because I think nature isn’t really miracles, it’s just biology. But sometimes you see a baby squirrel or a butterfly or a beautiful flower and then you think they were right. We humans can’t seem to get anything right. And somehow they get everything right. If you think of their place in our dark and violent world, they are actually miracles in their own right.

I’ve been stopping to look around a lot more as spring has come. Maybe it’s a little cheesy, I don’t know. Maybe cancer, covid and war has made me long for the miracles that nature can offer us. Just seeing that baby squirrel can make you think maybe there is a little bit of good still left. If I hadn’t gotten up today, I would have missed that. A baby squirrel probably won’t be able to save the world, but maybe they can save your day.

Dear Spring,

Spring is coming back. It used to be a time to be hopeful, a time where light returns and we get to breathe in fresh air and take in the sunshine. Two years ago this vision was spring was interrupted and replaced by a time that was characterized by fear and uncertainty.

This year it’s hard to know what to feel. The sun is out more and the sky is more blue. There are small flowers blooming and lots of birdsong. But if it wasn’t for those little glimpses of the season’s normality, it’s hard to tell that we’re going into a brighter and lighter season. The darkness of the past few years looms over us even when the sky is bright blue above us. The grief and memories haunt us and we are walking on eggshells even if those eggshells are dispersed among the blooming daffodils. While we look at those very flowers we think of the places in the world where these have no chance to grow or they will be quickly and violently trampled.

For me, this will be my first Easter without two important family members. Easter was a big holiday in my family. We all enjoyed it. Coloring eggs, eating lots, getting and giving chocolate eggs and little toy rabbits. I dread it now because I don’t want it to come without those people who I loved and who loved the holiday more than most.

Will we be able to embrace the warmth and hopefulness of spring despite our worries, fears and grief? We will have to wait and see. Enjoy the flowers in the meantime and be grateful for every time you get to look up at the open blue sky.