Oh, 2020 has been such a brutal and weary year, not just for our family but for the entire world. When we came up with this title for this new Advent book—A Weary World: Reflections for a Blue Christmas—it was before the pandemic hit. We were already tired. I already knew so many people who had a hard time with the holidays and we were considering what ours would be like with the ongoing soul shock of the loss of our son. However, nine months into our lives being completely upended, a post-election travesty of a political party unwilling to accept the results, a grim upcoming COVID winter, and the toll of grief, loss, disorientation, and loneliness that has pervaded 2020 makes this December even stranger.
When I wrote A Weary World, I said up front that it wasn’t for everyone. If life’s going good, if faith’s feeling groovy, if you just wish people would be more thankful, it’s no doubt not the right book; there are so many other better guides for the season for that stream! As I’ve been walking back through it with my faith community, The Refuge, this season it’s been good for me to draw back on some of my own words and engage with a few of the practices, too. It’s been a reminder that honoring our own reality and our own messy stories is worth it and a far more accurate reflection of the Jesus story, too; that practicing honesty and a full range of feelings across the spectrum is life-long work; that embracing paradox and the contradictions and both/and’s of life is incredibly healing (and hard to do!); that borrowing hope is possible.
And, ultimately, after all I’ve lost related to faith the one thing that remains and helps in ways beyond words is Emmanuel, God with us–in all the sh*tty and all the sweet, in all the muck and mire and beauty and brutal and exhausting and tender.
As we crawl through these last few months of the year, I’ve been lighting candles, getting outside, writing breath prayers that help, hosting gatherings that heal, and finding hope in the hard through community. With all that, it’s still weird. It’s still hard. It still hurts.
But knowing I’m not alone, we’re all not alone, does help.
It’s been very sweet for me to hear stories of individuals and communities traveling through a Weary World in different ways, and today I thought I’d just share a few additional resources that have been catalyzed by the material in case any of you are interested.
- On Tuesday December 8th at 6:30pm I’m collaborating on a free virtual contemplative gathering called Blue Christmas Online. While it’s not specifically about A Weary World, the main stations are centered on the four movements in the book, and it’s going to be such a sweet mix of music and art and beauty and experience together. Registration closes Monday December 7th at 5pm PST.
- The Work of the People has four free films centered on the four weeks of A Weary World. There wasn’t time to get them packaged for 2020 Advent, but they’re available this year and next year there will be ways to engage with them more intentionally for groups and individuals.
- My friend Pastor Rebecca Sumner created an Advent word for the day to capture images or reflections each day centered on the content in A Weary World.
- Westminster John Knox Books has free downloadable resources with quotes, questions, and other materials.
- If you want to take a sneak peek into the book, WJK Books offered a free excerpt of the Introduction and Week One.
- During the next four weeks in my Faith Shift: Healing and Hope Facebook group, we’ll be traveling through the four weeks together through the lens of a faith deconstruction—which makes all aspects of the holidays even weirder. If you’re interested in being part, you can request to join the group here.
Today, just know my heart is with you from afar.
As we hobble through the hard this season, know you’re not alone.
You’re in good company with other weary souls crawling toward the end of this year, finding our way, doing the best we can with what we have, honoring the grief and gratitude in the same space, feeling fragile, reimagining faith, and borrowing hope when it’s in short supply.
It makes me think of some of the words in the short prayer at the end of Week 4 and Borrowing Hope:
Help us remember that love still exists,
that people endure,
that you have been at work in the world
since the beginning of time.
May we keep rising out of the ashes,
honoring the changing seasons of our lives.
May you infuse us with courage
to keep meeting calamity with serenity.
May we be open to wonder and awe
as we keep finding our way.
Love from Colorado today, Kathy