How to describe 2021 in New Zealand? I have seen it described as a year of two halves. January to July was almost normal — we went about our daily lives with very few restrictions. We had face-to-face meetings of our study group in Auckland once a month, we met online once a fortnight with other readers up and down the country, and felt somewhat insulated from the effects of Covid 19 outside our borders.
This all changed in August, and those of us in Auckland went into lockdown for four long months. December got a little better, and we were finally able to leave Auckland just before Christmas, and mostly celebrate this festive season as usual.
As I write this, we are in that hiatus between Christmas and New Year — perhaps recovering from overindulgence in rich fare at the Christmas table, enjoying time with family and friends, at home, at the beach, and in other towns finally visiting loved ones we had only seen onscreen for so many months.
These few days are often a time of reflection — looking back and evaluating events and personal achievements and growth, and also a time of anticipation — looking ahead to 2022, wondering what will happen, making plans vague or firm, depending on the sphere of influence. I, for example, plan to go for a walk every morning but I cannot plan whether I will then go to work onsite or have to work from home, as external factors are outside my sphere of influence.
As ascenders making our way towards Paradise, we are told that on this journey we will learn to “feast upon uncertainty” (26:5.3), and in the past two years we have certainly been presented with many opportunities to develop this personality attribute! I suspect that 2022 will continue in this vein.
Our online study group has continued to meet throughout all the change and uncertainty of the past year, through health challenges and moving house. Our meetings have provided a stable anchor of spiritual communion and fellowship along with stimulating discussion of spiritual themes.
We finished the year with an examination of Paper 170, The Kingdom of Heaven, which was a wonderful reminder that another world exists in the inner life. It emphasised “the pre-eminence of the spiritual compared with the material” (170:2.4) and enabled us to lift our perspectives above the transitory difficulties of daily life in our current world. We enjoyed contemplating the higher possibilities inherent in our efforts to exercise our individual will in “spiritual fellowship with God the Father” (170:4.3) and look for opportunities to provide service to our brothers and sisters.
So we end one year and begin the next with hope and an expectation that we will continue feasting upon uncertainty!