It’s been quite a year. In hindsight, it seems like so many of us fumbled our way through much of 2020 as though it were a parenthesis, a temporary time away from all we’d taken for granted as “normal.” We placed our lives within brackets and then looked ahead to the moment, presumed to be several months down the line, when normal life would resume once again.Now, entering 2021 feels like something I’m experiencing with much clearer eyes about whatever lies ahead. For me, at least, it’s as though the dazzling sun, glinting off snow and ice crystals on a trademark North Country January day, is there for the sole purpose of saying, “This month is for illumination, for displaying life as it truly is.”
Because I’m not usually one for paying special attention to the turn of the calendar, or setting New Year’s resolutions, I’m surprised at how entering 2021 is feeling like an encounter with a different world. But perhaps this is a sign that, after years of celebrating other people’s weddings, child dedications, and memorial services – all momentous and significant life transitions – now it’s my turn to pay attention to how 2020 changed me.
Years back, celebrated Universalist minister Max Coots, who served the Canton UU church for over 30 years, offered the world his enduring wisdom with these words:
When love is felt or fear is known,
when holidays and holy days and such times come,when anniversaries arrive by calendar or consciousness,when seasons come, as seasons do, old and known, but somehow new,
when lives are born or people die,
when something sacred’s sensed in soil or sky,mark the time.Respond with thought or prayer or smile or grief.
Let nothing living slip between the fingers of your mind,for all of these are holy things we will not, cannot, find again.
This January finds me, I guess, marking the time. Responding to all that has slipped away, all the lives lost, all the hopes and dreams broken by the events of 2020. And yet, holy too have been the solidarity and deep generosity that so many in our communities have shown – without hesitation – to one another.
And so, as I mark this time I am also taking note of 2020’s teachings about how every moment is precious, every connection holy. Under the dazzling light of a January sun, this is what I see illuminated: it’s the human responses of “thought or prayer or smile or grief,” shared with one another, that bring meaning to the turning of the calendar. How grateful I am to be able to mark this time, and these learnings, here, together, with you.May 2021 bring renewal and transformation to us all.
In love and service,