Remember when we were in the last vestiges of 2019 and the corny joke that was making the rounds was that we were going to all have perfect vision in the new year because we will all see 2020? I know that it was (and still is) corny but boy did we misjudge this year! The pandemic with its extended tentacles reached in to our normal daily life, pulling away at our norms until we were left reeling. The deaths caused by this illness are not only staggering in numbers but also have hit too close to home for many of us. The shocking injustice that human beings can inflict upon one another (when one has a badge and another doesn’t) tears away at our hearts. And the “brother vs. brother” conflicts in partisan politics that make us forget that R or D affiliation does not define us when we are all Americans. Add what you will to this from your own personal experience and we have enough reason to look away from this season of gratitude.
I realize that your emotions toward 2020 can be quite negative. Maybe even say that what you feel about 2020 is a sense of ingratitude as this year comes toward its finale. Let’s give ourselves our moment to express our ingratitude to 2020. Now that we’ve done that let’s leave that emotion and move into our state of “in-gratitude” that will enable us to accept 2020 for what it was and move into 2021 with renewed energy.
Yes, I know that this year was “one for the books”. For instance, five of us celebrated my mom’s 95th birthday looking like robbers with our masks on and carving out social distancing in a 900 sq. ft. condo. But let’s also take stock of what happened this year that will make 2020 unique in our minds. Who knew that we would suspend in-person church services for so long! But I would wager that in 2019 a Zoom meeting request would generate a “what” response from most of us. Yet we have learned and embraced this platform for many of our church services and meetings. For those of us whose congregations have resumed limited in-person services wasn’t it wonderful to again be in the presence of our church family that were mere images on a screen? While we practice proper procedures (including social distancing), it was a reminder of how truly blessed we were and are to have that human interaction again. Last month our region boldly charted a course for our Conference by making it a virtual event, thanks to the efforts of the Conference team. While I miss the chance meetings that we can have at an in-person Conference, I was greatly blessed by all the presentations that were part of our virtual experience. I am in-gratitude.
We now come to the part where we express gratitude for our diversity, embrace it and find ways to preserve diversity with dignity for all. Recently our guest speaker at UOP Anthony Bozzi made a profound comment in his message. His statement was “stand up for one another”. We joyfully recognize and celebrate our many diversities, while never losing track of the common thread of humanity that we all share. Years ago I was kept alive by a series of blood transfusions. I don’t know anything about the angels that provided that blood for me, I just know that I am alive today because of their selflessness. No matter who made that sacrifice for me, our blood is still the same color. I am in-gratitude.
This has been a contentious year for our country politically, causing so many arguments between otherwise reasonable individuals (and some family members) that the rhetoric has become caustic to the fabric of democracy. I am reminded that the discussions of the founding of this “noble experiment” were no walk in the park either, since many strong contrary opinions emerged from the sessions. But our Founding Fathers possessed what we have currently lost sight of, a sense of a higher purpose. That sense allowed them to compromise for the greater good of the Union. This groundwork gives us the privilege to express our opinions and listen to the opinions of others. May we all find that same sense of higher purpose for this nation when the election is over and move forward. I am in-gratitude.
We are approaching Thanksgiving, when we renew our spirit of gratitude. That “in-gratitude” spirit can continue through the Christmas season and on to December 31st, when we say goodbye to the old man that is 2020 and hello to the little child that is 2021. What do you think? Will you join me in a spirit of “in-gratitude”?