In about fifty-two hours (and now less than 18) Twenty-twenty will end, and Twenty-twenty one will begin. Amusingly this is about the same hours as my age.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
One of the over-arching themes of this year is that we are made for, built for, yearn for, and need community, we need other people. This realization came while driving across Route 17/86 in NY more than a year ago in my work at the time as a traveling sales rep. Through a particularly beautiful section of road the tears streamed down my face as I came to the understanding that this particular work would not be long-term. I loved the work, meeting with shop owners, showing them new lines. That was great. What was at times completely overwhelming, was the loneliness of the road. This loneliness was heightened in March as the world shut down isolating all of us. My sister & her family could no longer come help me pack, and my brother who’d come to help had to leave the next morning. The loneliness of the isolation hit me early and hard as my Sweetie was here in TX and I was in NY packing up over twenty years of our life to move. I started shutting down, with the packing slowing to a crawl becoming rather overwhelming with memories. I thought in this moment that I wouldn’t be a good widow, however I have come to understand what I understood on that drive through the Southern Tier of NY: I do better with people around to interact with on a regular basis. It is, in and of itself, why I can travel to teach and be fine (except for the sleeping part) and be so rattled by the isolation of being on the road, and in the house alone by myself, for weeks on end with no one to interact.
Our current situation of isolation heightens loneliness and fear. This sense of loneliness can stifle our creativity, our ability to do the work we are intended to do. Which becomes painful. The sense of fear can shut us down in painful ways, and is heightened by the loneliness.
Coffee time hold on
This loneliness can open up our creativity in new ways, and our work can go in new directions. We can take the time to explore this loneliness and bring about ways to connect with the work of art that God gave us, which allows us then to connect with people in a new way. I have always known this deep truth, we are meant for, built for, created for community. Twenty-twenty has revealed that truth in raw, painful, and anxiety inducing ways. In one way we were community for one. Right now, in a way I’ve never witnessed, and experienced we are filled with fear of people. Oh there’s always been some fear of people, fear of being together, a fear of death.
While my mother-in-love lived with us she had COPD and our work together then our work separately had us around a lot of people. While I was working retail I often encountered people who came in to the store who were obviously sick. Being the natural born worrier that I am (perhaps this is where one of my favorite Scripture passages comes in) I worried about bringing things into her. Joy’s frequent response was we couldn’t live in a bubble. In those years she lived with us it was me who got sick with colds a couple of times rather than her.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Over the last few weeks I’ve personally been giving in, giving over to fear of really screwing something up. The thing is I’m a beginner at it and it’s going to show for a while. And if I simply get over myself I’ll be fine. Editing is a thing and while that too will take some practice I’ll be fine. I tell students that perfection is highly overrated, that they are doing the best they can in this situation. So I’m diving in and doing my work. I’m going to share the not so pretty stuff and move forward. With God’s grace and mercy this will all work.
As this year ends I have to share the following, I personally know that I am not fully prepared for my own death. I know that there are relationships that need healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation. I can assure you that while I appreciate the technology a video chat isn’t the place for that kind of intimate conversation. I’m certain faith wise I have so much room to grow.
For me while Twenty-twenty has been tumultuous with job changes, moving twice, living in a hotel for 4 months and some other personal stuff going on, it’s also been a good year. I’ve experienced years that have been much more difficult. Every time I asked for prayers for a special intention something difficult was happening in our lives that left me on the floor weeping, crying out to God, desiring to say, “Yes” and not fully knowing how to take that next step with Him. Experiencing at some point (a few years ago) no sense of God’s presence at all.
Today as we finish marking the year that is Twenty-twenty there is still much to learn from this year. There are relationships that need healing. Relationships that need forging. Relationships that need renewal. There is work to be done not only finding common ground with one another, but going further extending grace to others. There is room to listen to why someone holds opinions and thoughts, and faith in a different way than we do. There is work to be done in not condemning people for holding thoughts, opinions and Faith in a different way. There is work to be done in how we view other people’s culture and background. I have work to do. The we = me. While I am a good listener (sometimes reading subtext in a way that is somewhat unsettling) there is room to listen more, to act compassionately, to be giving in new ways. While this is a general observation about society this is also an examination of my own life.
As we finish Twenty-twenty, and move into Twenty-twenty one please be assured of my prayers for you for peace in your heart, mind, and soul. That the hardship of this year softens all of our/my edges. That a renewed sense of Creativity would flow from the difficulties of this year.
If you have a special intention for Twenty-twenty one please feel free to leave a comment and I will add it to my prayer list.