Thanksgiving is, or rather was, upon us as we soon stumble across the exit line of what has proved a very trying year for people across the globe. The calendar event as such now been and gone we must keep giving thanks to those within our social network who in the middle of a restrictive pandemic, of imposed restrictions, domestic isolation and curfew, care no matter what. While some friends turned acquaintances have fallen by the roadside, disappearing into the mist of silence, others have stepped up to the occasion during a year that has forced us to slow down yet at the same time experience more intense emotions that push us out of our comfort zone and into unknown territory.

Willing and able to look beyond themselves, those strong enough to tap into their own vulnerability while at the same time they are willing to step into our shoes and include us in their thoughts become true warriors – or as Sade would have it Soldiers of Love. As they reach out in continued support we meet them half-way in our corresponding inclusion of these special friends that remain in our lives when the going gets tough and connection on a soul level matters more than ever.

Highlighting the need for a shift in focus, this year has taught us to appreciate the individual more than the collective, face to face communication in a quiet setting rather than the flocking together with other social butterflies in a crowded bar. And if we during times of somewhat eased restrictions head to the countryside and leave the urban space behind we discover wide open spaces, wild beautiful oceans, a huge sheltering sky that just seems to get bigger and bigger and that displays a sparkling colour palette that shifts in all kinds of nuances and ranges from a soft shimmer as the afternoon moves into evening and a burning red as the sun sets and leaves the land in darkness as it is time for nature, too, to rest. Becoming one with the surrounding landscape we give thanks to Mother Nature and extend our gratitude to those who toil the earth and provide us with food each day. We likewise learn to appreciate the poetry between the words, the music within the silence, deep breathing and relaxation as we approach those close to us without pressure – meeting the other on a platform of mutual respect, sympathy and understanding.

Photographer: Jytte Holmqvist. Sweden, November 2020

As we leave a year behind that forever changed the rules we used to play by, we try to envision what 2021 will look like. Whatever the case, we must keep being grateful for what we have, appreciate those who really care, who faced with issues of their own are big enough to include us in their thoughts and sometimes also in their prayers. We must do the same for them as we meet each other on a more level playing field and welcome a new beginning less self-obsessed and, rather, more reflective, more mature, more caring and empathetic – having gained insights that have made us reassess who we are and what we stand for and realise what really matters.