• Maggie Wheeler

When the Pieces Fall

Photo by Lydia Tallent on Unsplash

Has it really been two months since I posted here? I find that 2020, along with everything else it has brought, seems to have a Plasticine quality to it in terms of time. Sometimes, we go into overdrive to keep up and cope, only to find that what has felt like weeks is just days. The reverse is true, too, as with this. What seemed to be a few weeks has become months.

I will claim pandemic brain fog, while I can still get away with it.

This will be my last post for this year. What a year it has been for all of us, and the effect is still ongoing. While my family remains through this healthy and safe, I have lost three good friends over the course of the year. None were due to Covid-19, but all were unexpected and caught us by surprise.

This year, at personal and social levels, seems to be the harbinger of the end of an era. For me, I thought it was about my turning 60 as a milestone. But what 2020 has done is illuminated the cracks and gaps in our lives, the places where change happened over time and our response was to tape them up, fill them in with temporary life pieces so the momentum of our living continued unabated.

But eventually something happens. I remember when hearing of the death of Princess Diana in August of 1997 saying to my then husband, “The twentieth century is over. The twenty-first has just begun.” Looking back, it was a turning point that many in my generation now point to historically and culturally as a marker—of an end and a beginning.

2020 will be seen as that. We taped and glued and pasted pieces as time smiled at our efforts, but ultimately acted as the great teacher it always is. Along came a year that still has not let up, and we were swept along in its path.

That’s when the pieces fall.

When they fall, some of them land on our heads and it leaves us dazed for a bit. Some land on our hearts and we feel a new pain, a new loss. But most land around us, scattered on the ground at our feet. First instincts are to quickly gather them up again before they are lost and so we focus on the ground—until we become aware of a light shining in our eyes. A light up ahead. A light previously obscured by the pieces we worked so hard, with all good intentions, to fasten in place.

As the pandemic roars along and our numbers continue to rise, bringing new lockdowns across Ontario, I am aware of a point of light in my peripheral vision. A new year is days away, but the temporal calendar is a human construct and therefore arbitrary. What I can’t shake is the feeling of a new era beginning, not in time but in heart and soul.

It is indeed a strange and “wonder-full” place to be, at this age and this moment.

One of the three friends I lost was Joan—artist, writer, spiritual soul, loving human being. She was a devout Christian always looking to learn and grow in her faith. We had many rich talks about life and God over the years that added much to my own search for meaning. Joan was also a supporter and mentor to me in my own work.

Last March, I had Joan be a guest contributor here with an entry from her own blog published on the Jesuit website Ignation. Since my blog began almost two years ago, Joan has read every entry and sent me comments, usually the same day. This time, there will be no comments. My time with Joan is one of the pieces I find shattered at my feet.

But getting older has its advantages. I’ve clocked in sufficient decades to already know that as I release the fallen pieces in my life, the gifts within them remain at my feet to stand on—a foundation of life on which to base my engagement with the new era before us.

We are not who we were at Christmas 2019. I’m not who I was when I started this blog. But that is as it should be. That is the power of life itself. That is the miracle to revisit and celebrate in the Season of Miracles.

So let the pieces fall.

And let peace fall.

I wish you all a safe, loving and magical Christmas season.

Good night, Joan.

Talk next year,


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