Sitting here, looking out of the kitchen window, it is easy to settle into the illusion of a perfect and peaceful world. In an orderly way, the November rains and winds have come. The leaves have drifted down and heaped themselves into rake-defying corners around the cabin. The skeletal trees offer a bony kind of beauty as ethereal branches lift toward the sky and lichens become more luminescent on oak bark. No sun today, just November gray, soft, undemanding, comfortable. But back in the reality of my kitchen, the ubiquitous masks rest on the kitchen table next to my wallet and keys - reminding me of the passage of a year like no other. When the year began, I wondered how 2020 might be come a metaphor for clearer vision as we entered deepest winter, little realizing on January 1 that by the end of the month 2020 would become an apocalyptic year. From the Greek, apocalypse means “uncovering” or disclosure or revelation of great knowledge.
As the year unfolded television and phone screens around the world allowed us to witness the murder of George Floyd. We watched as nonviolent protests in the nation's capitol were met with military presence and tear gas. The daily report of positive Covid tests and then the mounting numbers of Covid deaths became a morning ritual on the daily news. The statistics for illness and deaths among people of color and among the poor alarmingly surpassed the statistics for the general population.
We watched as the callous lack of concern and compassion, the ignorance and refusal to recognize the deadliness of the virus, the disdain for and rejection of the simplest, effective methods for protection paved the way for astronomical numbers of infections and deaths.
White supremacy, food insecurity, economic instability, threatened elections, Black Lives Matter, poverty, homelessness, gross inequities in our health care delivery system, job losses, a stalled, contentious and uncooperative Congress - all have kept the country on edge as the pandemic has re-ordered our lives.
2020 has been an apocalyptic year. The veil is drawn back. The revelations are undeniable. We can see much more clearly now, the inequities in our health care delivery systems. We can see much more clearly now, how deeply white supremacy is ingrained in our culture. We can see more clearly the nature of police brutality towards people of color. We can see more clearly the results of our toxic political environment. We can see more clearly the gross inequities in our health care system. This is the apocalypse we live with now - - the revelation - - the disclosure - - the drawing back of the veil. Clearer vision is deeply painful. But through the centuries the notion of apocalypse has brought with it notions of hope for a new creation subverting and replacing the old. So - here we stand, on the threshold of 2021 and now I am wondering how we will live into the coming year responsibly, given what we now see more clearly.
May we anticipate a saner, more hospitable, more compassionate, more generous, less violent expression of our collective humanity as we prepare once again as the holiday season unfolds. The light of the Hanukkah candles signify hope in a deeply suffering world.
The Advent candles invite the contemplation of renewed peace and joy in the count-down to the Christmas celebrations as Christians prepare to welcome the most truly Human One into our lives once again. May the loving and compassionate wisdom of the Holy One invade our lives on the breath of a New Born, sweet and captivating. May the blessings of complete healing, joyful reconciliation, peace of mind, adequate income, food in the fridge, outrageous laughter, meaningful work, and loving relationships be abundant for all in the coming year.
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