December 22, 2022
It’s a pleasure to be speaking to you today.
I hope you’re well and that you ‘ve managed this strange and extraordinary year as best you can. It’s been challenging for all of us in so many ways. And, perhaps, with luck, facing those challenges has moved us closer to those we hold dear, and allowed us time to look more carefully at our own personal world and the ‘world outside’.
I realize that, in speaking to our community, I must first offer my sincere sympathies to those among us whose lives have been touched by illness and Covid 19. I think we all feel a pang when we hear of the ‘empty chair at the table’. (Some of you know that all too well.) As of today, the situation remains difficult and perilous – some would say that in many cases ‘it’s getting worse’. And yet, we also see light at the end of the tunnel in the form of emerging treatments and vaccines. My wish for you today is that we can follow that light to a better place – and to a more thoughtful and better future.
Many of you will know that 2019 was a busy year for me, of touring and making music as we continued the “Lost Souls Tour”. We travelled a lot — from Brazil, Argentina, & Chile to many places across Europe, and Turkey, to our last performance in Sherbrooke, Quebec here in Canada. It was so gratifying to see many of you ‘out there’. And there were so many joyful musical nights with our onstage and backstage team.
And, outside of my touring days, I continue my work as a citizen in my home community – Stratford, Ontario, and as the Honourary Colonel for the Royal Canadian Air Force, and as a mother and a friend. (That was 2019.)
When our tour ended, I wrote to our community that 2020 would be different for me. I felt the time had come to step back from touring and making music for a while, that it was time to take a pause from ‘career’ and give more commitment to my personal family life and to my duty as a citizen.
I feel strongly that we all need to be informed and to speak up about where our world is going, particularly now. You are probably aware of my deep concerns about the proliferation of ever-expanding technologies in our lives – and the threats that the mind-bending invasion of the digital world can pose to you and me, to our children, and to our inner peace. Now, I see more and more attention to this serious issue.
We also have a planet to protect. Centuries of colonization, industrialization and agricultural expansion have put our once-rich natural world in peril. The growing chorus of concern is being heard. Change cannot happen too soon. To me, these things must be priorities for our leaders. And we, ourselves, have to speak up for we can all be leaders in our homes and communities.
As the year ends, I’ve become heavily involved a public concern over a large new industrial project in our city which requires serious debate — not the hasty approval that has been presented.
Too, this has been a year which has allowed me to do more camping, hiking, more gardening and preserving. Just being an average person at home.
And to be honest, we are preparing a few surprises for next year and perhaps the one after that, when we can return to the stage and see you all once again.
And yet, on goes the pandemic. Its cost continues to grow. And its lessons have been hard. But it is not my intention here to offer grim warnings. It is, after all, the season of ‘good tidings’. It’s the time when we light our candles and put up our lights to brighten the dark evenings, and we celebrate the end-of-year in so many ways. And, yes, there is reason to celebrate. The day light is now going to get loner. We can now see a time when the separations caused by Covid may well end.
And in our world, so many are now saying that this time of challenge has offered a positive opportunity for all of us to ‘think again’ about where we are headed, where our society is going. We know positive change is in the air.
It’s fitting that at this time of year that we remember that the traditions of this season – going back centuries – grew from our real human need to bring light into the darkness of December and to face the darkest time of the year with faith and hope. The lights of this season signal more than celebration, they signal a way forward for us all. This year, we need more than ever to feel the hope that comes with what this season brings. Is it possible, in these times, to reach for hope…even for Joy?? I believe it is, and it often comes with being in service to others. Let us find that hope and feel joy, in the days of this season.
Again, my wish for all of us – that we make this challenging time an opportunity for positive change and growth. Let’s embrace the glorious light of Christmas, the brightness that shines from all the faiths and traditions of this time. Let’s find the brighter path that can lead us to a better world. Let’s care for ourselves and for each other. May I wish each one of you, the very best as we step forward into a new year.