As we crossed from one year to the next, we also sought to encourage this kind of acknowledgment. The first week of January we prepared a message to recognize the challenges of 2020, and we engaged in some of the most meaningful experiences of community, creativity, and connection I’ve ever experienced.
But then, January 6th happened, and suddenly it didn’t seem possible to speak about anything further in the past than the last 24 hours. It’s a perfect example of what it’s felt like to live through 2020. A constant barrage of unprecedented events that has made it hard to find our bearings. Like one too-true joke I saw on social media, “Welcome to the 38th day of December 2020.”
Yet, as we said in our Fire Communion service, this is exactly why we need to carve out space to bear witness and allow ourselves to feel the passing of time in these moments and transitions, and in all the experiences we have felt and known and come through this year. Especially given the big impact we had for and with our community in 2020.
So, let this be your invitation to pause and to feel all that 2020 brought. Remember the full journey. The ignorance in which we lived for the first few months of the year. The shock and confusion as we moved into quarantine. The realization that this was not ending any time soon. The persistence of political polarization even amid a pandemic. The infuriating injustice of George Floyd’s death, then Breonna Taylor’s death. The systemic racism that remains at the root of our country. The ash falling from the sky as our beloved forests burned. The impossibility of online schooling while also full time working from home. The long stretches of time without seeing those we love. The absence of hugs, and handshakes, and singing together.
Acknowledge the whole journey. And then, as you peruse the graphic Kelsey created below, remember all of the ways that we have met this struggle, not with bitterness or despair (though we’ve had our moments), but with generosity, creativity, kindness, and courageous love. (And know that for all the things we’ve listed here, there are 100 things we couldn’t fit into this one image!)
Honor all of the learning we’ve done, all the things we know and understand now that a year ago we might’ve thought impossible. It is awesome what we have survived and how.
We know all too well that not everything changes just by moving into a new year. But actually, that’s such good news. Because I don’t want to forget about 2020 or leave it entirely behind us. We need to bring 2020 with us as we move into the year ahead and beyond.
Everything we’ve learned and experienced this year offers us a beautiful foundation for whatever the future holds and a reminder that however life shifts and whatever challenges we face, in community and in faith, we can – and will – respond with love.
In partnership and with gratitude,