Learning to Love Them

“A man who took great pride in his lawn found himself with a large crop of dandelions. He tried every method he knew to get rid of them. Still they plagued him.
Finally he wrote the Department of Agriculture. He enumerated all the things he had tried and closed his letter with the question: “What shall I do now?”
In due course the reply came: “We suggest you learn to love them.”
– Anthony De Mello, Dandelions

2020 is almost over, but the damage done this year will be with us for a long time. Damage to our confidence about walking around in public places. Damage to our relationships with people who took the other side in an election. Damage to our faith in humanity itself. Which makes you wonder, what will plaque us when this is over?

Will we not talk to “certain people” again? Will your neighbor keep their Trump sign up until 2024? Will social change gradually become accepted by the vast majority? Will we ever stand closer than six feet with strangers again? Will those who had COVID suffer from the invasive symptoms of the virus for their lifetimes? Will the planet quickly reject humanity as a virus of its own?

So many questions developed and honed in the tumultuous forge of 2020. So what shall we do now? What could we possibly love about this year?

We can get rid of the number on the calendar but we can’t rid ourselves of the lingering resentment for what was taken away from us when the New Year rings in: Loved ones. Friendships. Events. Time.

We can love the lawn despite the dandelions.

Personally, I’ve lost a step-father but grown closer to my mother. I’ve found time with friends who were supposed to be on the other side of the world right about now. I’ve missed out on a graduation ceremony and an anniversary trip to Hawaii but gained moments with my children and my wife. I’ve lost time in places far away but immersed myself in necessary home projects and sunk my hands deeper into the garden than before.

There’s no doubt this year will leave a mark. We’ll all look back on it with complicated emotions. But even soldiers in war would talk of that time fondly for the bonds formed under duress. We’ll learn to love some of 2020, despite it all.

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