A reflection on the winter solstice and this year
Last night, we tried to set up the telescope my son got for Christmas last year, but the tripod was broken, and the view from my front yard was clear to look with our eyes. It was incredible to see the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction on a relatively mild North Carolina evening. Even though I live in the city, I can still find a way to block out much of the light pollution to star and moon gaze.
It was winter solstice 2019 when I decided to begin my Sky Collection project. I made a goal to write a poem a day inspired by taking sacred pauses to look up and notice. I did not write 365 poems for the project, mostly because so much happened this year. In February, my dad died, and right after that, the pandemic hit the U.S., so my teaching job became remote. I sure learned a lot about teaching online and about returning to school under strict safety protocols.Masked and Ready for School
Teaching during COVID-19 is making me a better educatormedium.com
Dealing with the loss of my father both closed me down and opened me up. A lot of my poetry in Sky Collection became about that experience. It was a way for me to grieve, I suppose. Growing up, I was always losing my dad. This year was just the final loss. Ambiguous grief has been difficult throughout my life. It is a sense of always waiting for the next trauma to happen.
Ambiguous grief/anxiety took on a whole new meaning this year because of COVID-19, and that anxiety is far from over. I still feel like I am waiting. Waiting to be with people I love. Waiting to go somewhere. Waiting to feel safe enough again. Waiting to get my son into more stuff again. Waiting for things to go “back to normal.” I want to stop waiting and just be. So if I had to make any new year’s resolutions, that would be it.
My ritual with the new year is not to resolve to stop doing something. Instead, I decide what no longer serves me and slowly or all at once, I let it go. Sometimes I write those things down and burn the paper. Then I decide what to keep with me for the next year. So into 2021, I will bring a new sense of healing, a wonderful writers’ community, a powerful and beautiful writing practice, strength to be a teacher in-person or remotely, stamina to wear a mask all day, everyday.
Looking back at what I accomplished this year in my writing: I wrote a total of 115 poems in my Sky Collection project and hundreds more poems and stories in my notebooks and elsewhere on Medium. I opened up my publication Sky Collection to dozens more writers. I created a writing prompts practice, which inspired many people to create a diversity of responses.
Most of all, I am proud that I published my first poetry collection, Reaching Marrakesh, which is a book I think I have always been writing about losing my dad.
So even though I am finished with last year’s Sky Collection Project, I will also take into the new year my practice of stopping and taking in the sky. It is always important to take sacred pauses — to look up at the sky and notice there is so much more to our universe. To my little patch of sky, thank you for continuing to fill me with wonder and joy.
Happy New Year, dear readers!
- Samantha Lazar 2020
Here is the link to the poem of the same title:My Little Patch of Sky
Sky Collection — Poem 96medium.com
This piece was originally published here.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to announce I have at last released a poetry narrative collection out into the world: Reaching Marrakesh. You can find that here.