A Light Year

Our 2021 selves have made it through such a remarkable thing together.

Sarah Condon / 1.7.22

I do wonder if anyone is still making a New Year’s Resolution. Like an actual one, about weight, or money, or reading the Bible more. Doesn’t it feel like just living is enough right now? Between the news cycle and how everyone you know has Covid, isn’t it incredible that you are still here?

You have made it through so much. You, the old you, the you who made it through 2021. Why would we ever need a newer version of the person who bravely faced so much pain? I rather like the 2021 you. And me.

And I know God is in love with the old us. Absolutely head over heels. So here’s to that 2021 person.

You survived the Christmas of 2021. You knew you were going to need a back up plan for that trip to Disney. What you did not know is that you would need exactly 3 back up plans after that one. So Plan D  was booking a hotel within driving distance. No one is as happy about anything as your daughter is about running down a hotel hallway to a pool. No one. And you ordered the pizza and the cheesy breadsticks while everyone watched HGTV in a king sized bed. Basically Bethlehem. Way to make the season bright, you beloved child of the Most High God.

You got married this year. It was incredibly stressful. You had to ask people you are related to personal questions about their vaccination status in order to let them dance to Mariah Carey and then pray to the lord of the dance that there was not a new variant that week. But you made it through. Whether that was in front of a priest or in front of a friend who got internet ordained. Because what God has joined together no one puts asunder. Especially in 2021.

You got divorced this year. It was awful. Your finances feel like they will not recover and you feel the same way about your heart. You have managed to only cry in the safety of your closet because a friend said not to cry too much in front of the kids. You have only managed to pull that off a solid 35% of the time. But look at you, eating breakfast this morning and appreciating how warm the sun feels on your face.

You have run a church in the second year of a global pandemic. People have become angry with you about all kinds of things: outdoor church, mask wearing, not mask wearing, too much social issues preaching, not enough social issues preaching, indoor church, outdoor church again. But you know people so well. You know they are not mad at you; they are mad at circumstances. And sometimes misdirected anger is just rude prayers. And just look at you, hoping God hears the prayers of those who feel desperate and are no good at just saying so.

You got a new job. Which is great because there are infinite articles and catch phrases about doing this. Maybe you quit ministry or teaching or selling leggings. Or maybe it was all of those at once? I know you are out there. You like your new job okay but it turns out that, much to your horror, you are still you in your new job. But God is still God so there’s that.

You were diagnosed with cancer just before Easter. Who the hell gets cancer in their 30s? You have children to raise and a neighborhood women’s group to make fun of. You do not have time for chemotherapy. All of the hours spent in a chair with actual medicinal poison attached to a port in your chest. What a terrible thing to have to endure. And yet, here you are. Finishing up that last round. Getting hugs from your elementary school kids, kissing your husband, just look at all of the things 2021 you gets to do in 2022. Look at God.

Your parents both died in a car accident at the end of 2020. You have spent the year crossing state lines to drive home what is left of two incredible lives. Your house has become an ofrenda. You have gone through old love letters, a gun used in your grandfather’s suicide, and you are the proud owner of more southwestern art from the 1990s than anyone should have ever owned. So many desert scenes. Too many cacti. But just look at you and your burgeoning good humor for the colors turquoise and adobe peach. Out there wearing your mother’s water-colored scarves and reading your dad’s old history books. You, dear one, are magnificently and wonderfully made.

Your grandfather/grandmother/uncle/aunt/spouse died of Covid. There’s guilt and questions and blaming to go all around. What if there had been a solution sooner? Or why did they choose not to get vaccinated? Headlines feel like personal assaults. And even the real people in your actual life feel as though they can speculate about the medical charts of your loved one. But you are surrounded by a community built on grief and love. Love, as St. Dolly reminds us, is grief with nowhere to go. Hear me when I say that God can handle them both with you.

I once read that we may not be able to see the touch of God but that we can see the trace. Surely, my 2021 was not the only one full of haunting pain and also relentless compassion. Our 2021 selves have made it through such a remarkable thing together. We have made it through an entire year of life. My God, what a remarkable feat. Even if it felt like God had abandoned us. Even if we decided we do not believe anymore. Even if we laughably think we managed all of this on our own. None of that matters to the one who made us for love. Thank God for that.

I do have one resolution for 2022 me. I am hoping to make sure my children brush their teeth before school. And just this morning a big-hearted, foamy-mouthed 11 year old looked up at me as he gripped his tooth brush and said, “Look at us Mama! We are finally doing it!”

Look at us, buddy. We are finally doing it. And also, we have done so much.

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