When you rise tomorrow it will be a new year. Or perhaps, where you are, it already is.

For many, the turn of the year to 2021 will be a relief.

To the robins, squirrels, salmon, oak trees, granite and gray wolves, it’s business as usual. Life continues on.

And while I sincerely hope that 2021 will be less fraught with difficulties and tragedies than 2020, we humans will still need to do the work of trying to be decent human beings.

Which, it turns out, is not that easy.

To uplift our spirits for the time ahead, I wanted to share this song with you, produced by a folk chorus that, like many, had to go virtual in 2020.

The song itself has a history.

The first two stanzas were adapted from a poem by Wendell Barry and then set to music by Wendy Tuck in 1975. The song was first sung in West Virginia.

When I rise
Let me rise
Like a bird

When I fall
Let me fall
Like a leaf

Then, as true folk songs do, the song migrated and found its way to Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hanh’s community in France. More verses appeared and now different versions exist.

I love this version of the song. Shane Jewell, a choral director from my island, produced it virtually in 2020 with people from around the world. I would love it even if I didn’t recognize some of the singers.

Waking up this morning, I smile
24 brand new hours are before me
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look on all beings with compassion

May we rise together in 2021.

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