Our year of miracles
There were white out conditions on Hoosier Pass and in the morning, the wind was still whipping snow sideways as the temperature hovered above zero.
I’m tucked under a blanket I knit, in my big chair, Yo-Yo Ma is playing the Bach cello suites softly, there’s a stack of books on the marble-top table next to my chair with my journal and a cup of milky tea. I’m reading “The Friendship of Women” by Joan Chittister.
There’s a quote that speaks of the friendship, yes friendship, between God and us. “Saint Ambrose saw a human friendship as a necessary part of the outpouring of God’s friendship. ‘Because God is true,’ Ambrose argued, ‘friends can be true… Because God offers friendship, we can be each other’s friends’.” (The Friendship of Women, p. xvii, Joan Chittister, 2006)
Years ago, I asked God for the gift of close friends. In the six years since my move to Breckenridge, God has answered that prayer more fully than I could ever have dreamed. This year has shown me what friendship can do for a community.
Most of us want to race to the finish line to put this year behind us with perhaps a swift kick in the pants for good measure, as it departs.
2020 has been tough. I remember where I was when I received the news that we were going into lockdown for the first time. I had just come home from City Market, my birthday was a few days off, and I was heading down to Florida to celebrate it with Mom.
When the pandemic began, I used to write the number of cases and deaths at the top of each page in my daily journal. I stopped after the numbers became too staggering to capture the heartache they held.
But that is not what a whole story of 2020.
The pandemic which by necessity turned us inward, caused us to take note of our citizenship in this community, and helped us to notice those in need. More often than not, we reached out to our neighbors and asked, how can I help?
After I told you about the free Sunday community dinner at Father Dyer’s church, managed by Vicky Holcomb, and the Smart Bellies non-profit founded by Sarah Schmidt and Margaret Sheehe to feed hungry school children and their families, Vicky received volunteers and Smart Bellies received a $10,000 check from a very generous woman who’d read of their good work and decided to help.
I often write about how we are the hands and feet of God. 2020 showed us how true that is. God’s friendship with us, arms open wide, reaching out to help when we are hungry or cold or in need of an ear to listen, is what God asks us to do for one another.
2020 is the year we did. We saw it in the tireless work of our neighbors who are healthcare providers, educators, grocery workers, pastors and priests, who kept us going through the pandemic because they wouldn’t give up. We saw it in our neighbors, the restaurant and small business owners who worked to keep their doors open and employees paid, so we chose to shop local this year.
There were many miracles this year. The vaccines that were created by scientists, the women at Smart Bellies who decided no child in Summit County should go hungry.
Sometimes, we mistakenly think miracles only come in big packages. But as I thought about this year, it occurred to me that small acts of kindness, like the persistent friend who calls every day to make sure you’re okay, can feel like a miracle to someone who is depressed or mourning the loss of a loved one.
In her book on friendship, Joan Chittister wrote, “The love of a friend comes always with a lantern in hand.”
That’s what we saw this year, people in our community carrying lanterns of love, running toward those in need. Turns out that in a year of terrible loss of loved ones, of jobs, and savings, in a year of devastation for so many people, this was also a year of gratitude for friends and neighbors who did not allow us to go through it alone.
2020 was a no-good terrible year, but it was also our year of miracles.