The Year that Wasn’t

New oak leaves.

April 16, 2021

Recently I had the opportunity, after over a year, to visit a friend and have a cup of tea with her.  As we conversed about the ongoing pandemic, she referred to 2020 as “the year that wasn’t.”  At first I thought that was a clever and succinct summary of 2020 when the world was locked away in fear and all its usual activities upended and canceled.  In many regards, it did indeed feel like the year that wasn’t, a year that put most things on hold, a wasted year.  Yet the more I pondered that summary, the more it rubbed against me.  I don’t want to come out of that time as if it were all for nothing; I want to come out of that time as a new creation.

The Franciscan monk Richard Rohr spends much conversation and writing on “The Transformative Journey,” the three stages of what I call times of “unraveling”:  1. Order; 2. Disorder; 3. Reorder.  Order is the period of time when we are living our lives without much awareness.  Everything is going okay.  We are in charge and self-sufficient.  We have our calendars, meetings, and agendas, and our attention is on how productive we are as we await affirmations and raises and the next step up a ladder that leads to more significance in society’s eyes.  And then, something happens, something we have absolutely no control over, and the floor gives way beneath us and the sky falls upon us and everything we know unravels.  The pandemic was/is a time of that exact disorder.

We could, of course, remain stuck in the disorder.  We could come out of the pandemic returning to our original order, which is what I fear most of the world will do.  We will go back to our routines, our schedules, our unawareness and self-sufficiency, reliant on ourselves, not on Divine Love, the Source that runs through all of these seasons.  We will want things to be the way they’ve always been because it’s more comfortable that way, and in making those choices, the poor will remain poor, the rich will remain rich, the marginalized and oppressed will stay as they are, power will continue to corrupt, worship will be stale, creation will be plundered, and Love will be an empty word.

But there is another way, the harder way.  We can refuse to go back to the year that wasn’t and the false order that existed before it.  We can take time to reflect on who we have become in these past thirteen months and who we want to be.  We can ask, “What was so great about how things were?  Do we really want all of that again?”  We can discern what and who we are willing to give our time and attention to, and what and who we are not.  We can take back our voices and speak out against what isn’t of Love.  In entering reorder, we can seek what Rohr describes in this stage:  “A mysterious and graced experience of God’s presence can be tasted and increasingly frees the will to be aligned with God’s will for the love and healing of the world.”

Love and healing, seeds planted in the year that wasn’t, seeds of possibility for new beginnings and new creations.  We have been given an opportunity to nurture those seeds together, to water them with Divine Love, and to allow them to spread from our own hearts, our own love and healing for ourselves, out into the world.  We don’t have to go back to “normal” because normal wasn’t working.  Instead, we can be agents of resurrection working with the Creator of All and turn the pandemic into blessing.

Blessings to you for new creation. ~ Rosemary