A Year of Refining

Each year, a word crystallizes as the word of the year. It’s never at the beginning and rarely clear until there later in the year. This year was surprising to be sure. In January, we celebrated our daughter’s first birthday surrounded by friends and family at one of our favorite restaurants. In February, I accepted a position as chaplain at the drop-in nursery that helped us raise our children relishing the fact that I got to teach our youngest once a week. I passed the first year as pastor of Garden of Grace UCC and embarked on the journey of dual-recognition of my ordination by taking a polity class.

By all accounts, we were settling in. We were getting that point of parenting and working that was comfortable, predictable, and even routine. We began to start to look at houses thinking about different neighborhoods and different communities around town.

And then March 15th changed everything. We gathered with the COVID-19 restrictions that had been released and recommended in our sanctuary knowing that it would be the last time, but not fully understanding just how long it would until we were able to even see each other again. I can remember raising my hands to give a benediction choking back tears because I knew everything was about to change.

I’ve had a couple of those moments in my life. Times when I knew even as I was walking through them that I would remember every single part of the experience because it was a moment that would change my life forever. When I walked through security to embark on a journey to teach overseas for a year in Germany. When I walked down the church highway where I had spent so much of my childhood with the words, “We don’t support that” after sharing a call to pastor. When I met my partner and my guiding light for the first time as he was moving bookshelves for a fellow teacher. When friends and family gathered for my ordination. When I held my babies for the first time.

These are the moments that define us. And these are the moments I have come back to again and again in this year of refining. It has been a year of coming home and being home. Remembering what is most important and having time for the things that give life and light. This has been a year of refining who I am as a person and adding the author identity to my self. This has been a year where all of the years I spent preparing and training to be a teacher and teaching have come back around (especially that one year as a technology teacher where I was in over my head).

This has been a year of refining what is most important. May I not forget the challenges, the tears, and the purpose this year has brought.