This was an asking year.
When I chose this picture of a tree growing out of a rock as my guiding image for the year, I did not anticipate how appropriate it would be as the months progressed.
I wrote in January:
“Some days I will be the rock; immobile, holding fast the things that grow.
Other days I will be the tree; myself seemingly stuck but still growing.
Many days I will find myself feeling the unseen energy moving within and between both elements of rock and tree.
And then somehow I will also be the whole tableau,
always connected to the web of creation,
waiting and working and doing the part that is mine to do. “
It is that same dichotomy that is in the asking and answering of questions. We live in the tension of here and there, then and now, knowing and not knowing.
2016 felt for me more like the anchoring rock more than the growing tree.
I did grow and have times gratefulness and joy.
- Over the summer I found peace in the physical activity of riding my bike along the lakefront in Racine, Wisconsin.
- I nested at home, painting many rooms and transforming the basement into a quiet oasis for reading and art.
- I attended 2 ½ day anti-racism training: Analyzing and Understanding Systematic Racism. This learning has changed me. It has changed the way I see the world by breaking open all I thought I knew about the United States and race. It showed me that because of my place of privilege (the color of my skin), I live in a totally different country with different rules and freedoms than our brothers and sisters of color. Totally.
This is where the branches on my tree grew visibly because of the steadiness of others willing to let me learn and grow.
- I attended a Muslim Solidarity Event in which 800 Muslim and non-Muslims came together to pledge to our fellow Muslim citizens that we stand with them and denouncing hate, prejudice and Islamophobia.
- There was too much pain, sadness and death for people and families that are important to me.
Eliana. AJ. Nancy. Bill. Nephews and nieces. Church members.
- Leading worship after tragedies like the bombing of the Orlando nightclub.
- Shepherding our congregation through a process of discernment and imagining a future for our church.
I end this year feeling the heaviness of the rock. That is just how some years are: some years ask questions and some answer. Even in the heaviness, I live in hope. It is not the hope that comes from us, flawed humans. It is the hope that God loves this world so much (all creation, all people) that nothing we do will can ever change that.
Here is a blessing to carry us into the New Year:
The Lord bless us and keep us;
the Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious to us;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace.
Numbers 6:24-26 (adapted for us)