Saturday, December 31, 2016

In Memoriam to 2016, Good Riddance



In Memoriam, [Ring out, wild bells]

Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1809 - 1892

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
 
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
 
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
 
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
 
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
 
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
 
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
 
Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

In Memoriam to 2016

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;

There is hardly any other way to put it: 2016 has been a real bitch. I can’t wait for it to be done. If I could go back or skip 2016 I would. The only good thing about 2016 was the Cubs winning the World Series. Maybe if 2016 had ended there—but, no, let it go.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;

Goodbye Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Gwen Ifill. Mohamed Ali, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen. It was like every day I was opening up my newsfeed to discover some new passing, a death that took my breath away, a sinking lurch. Oh, no, not another.

The random murders in my neighborhood. Within a matter of weeks in August there were two shootings. A woman crossing the street in front of Uptown Baptist Church, age 57, is shot and killed. Then Friday night a man walking in front of my building, age 55, gunned down.

Then my college friend’s husband, also a good friend of mine, SUDDENLY died. She heard a thump in the bathroom and that was it. On election night I got news that a close friend had gone for a walk, sat down on a park bench, and never got up. A passerby called 911. A few nights ago I was on Facebook, there is a lot of chatter around another friend. Finally I wrote to her daughter: What’s up with your Mom? In the a.m. I got her message: Mom passed away Thursday morning.

I’m so sad for the friends I’ve lost. I feel as if I have PTS. I can’t wait for 2016 to end. Go, go, go—

The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells

Finally, the election. I’ve often wondered if I had made a bargain with God, maybe said okay no World Series if you just let Hillary win. Or if not her, just not him. Worked out some kind of trade, given something up for perhaps the greater good. But we are stuck here on the edge of an abyss and I’m not sure about 2017. 2018 or 2019 for that matter. The world seems a gravely dangerous place.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;

We’ve endured so much in 2016. Lies and malice, doublethink and double talk, where right is wrong and wrong is right. A brave new world. 1984. We are on a slippery slope and I am sick with every twisting tilt. I have to remind myself to breathe.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,

Have I mentioned Syria? The barrel bombs, the children, people crushed, ground into dust. Hospitals, once off-limits during war, obliterated. The last one gone. The UN cannot even get a majority vote for safe passage of civilians. What is this world coming to? Not so much a question, but a ragged sigh. The few refugees who have made it, found a landing place are once again threatened by far-right governments wanting to turn a blind eye. The hate and rancor. The mistrust of the stranger, the outsider, the other. Christ asks: Who is my mother, my brothers? This no longer feels like some existential question, but someone snapping their fingers in front of my face and demanding that I wake up. Here! Here! They are all around us! Sleeping under bridges, crossing dangerous seas, standing in our midst asking for help, for a lifeline to be thrown. How will I answer . . .

Ring out the darkness of the land,

I want to ring out 2016. Wring it out. Twist it all gone, and in its place:

Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
 
For all the heartbreak, dashed expectations, tears there’s got to be something more. Ring in hope.
 
 

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