I love these days in the last week of December. My gaze often goes to the sky as the sun slowly begins to move higher. Hiking today, I began to see other signs emerging from the soil. After the snow has melted, life is getting ready for the spring. If you look closely at the photo, you can see very small mushrooms and small plants beginning to grow right at the foot of a tree.

It would have been easy to miss these signs of life among the loud wind, fallen trees, and running water.

As the executive director of  Paths to Understanding, I am blessed to see other signs of life as well. I see communities of wisdom working to support formerly incarcerated people. I see people of all traditions working to support a better life for unhoused people. I see leaders creating public events to support communities who are being dehumanized. I see small groups of people from many traditions gathering to know one another and to listen deeply. I see relationships developing between local indigenous communities and their neighbors. I see a hunger for hope and connection.

It would be easy to miss these signs with the loud wind of negative news we hear about each other.

With all the challenges life on earth is facing, with the lack of equity for many communities and the rampant divisions, we do have a lot of work to do. But seeds of human kindness and courage are emerging.

Certainly these seeds need tending. They need support and encouragement. They need space to grow. As we enter the new year, I encourage us to be attentive to the seeds of kindness and courage in ourselves and in one another. In this way we participate in the web of life emerging from the soil in these gloomy but brightening days.