2020 in The Rearview Mirror
Not to beat a dead horse, but 2020 has been an interesting year, to say the least. Looking back, the year has been full of challenges and adaptation on a parish, spiritual, and personal level for me and others.
Here at the parish, March ushered in radical changes in how we do things. The staff did a marvelous job of being flexible and adapting to the new normal of doing things. We moved to Zoom meetings and other forms of electronic communications. There was some pain and learning involved but we adapted and after 9 months it feels very natural as we work together in a virtual way. We locked down all events and masses at the church and started the long difficult process of putting together a COVID-19 plan for the parish, including a plan for returning to in person worship. During this time of lockdown, we ramped up our capabilities to provide video recordings of our Masses on our parish YouTube channel, and with a generous donation were able to install a camera system in the church to allow for live streaming of Masses, funerals, baptisms, and other prayer services. We leveraged our Facebook page and started a new email communication, The Pascal Pulse, to provide timely dissemination of information and events in the parish.
These efforts of the staff during this time has provided the parish with ways to continue our spiritual development and worship. The great detail and effort in preparing for opening our church to public worship provided a safe and comfortable environment for those that come in person. Our continued virtual presence has filled an important need as our weekend Masses are watched by over 300 people (including ASL) and our weekday Masses reach over 50 people. I applaud our parish staff for pivoting so quickly and working hard to adapt to a new world in such a short time.
For me on a spiritual level, 2020 has been a year of good spiritual growth. The extra time to spend in prayer and spiritual reading has provided a deep sense of God’s presence in my life during a chaotic time for most. I feel very blessed for this and do realize that my life situation of being retired allows me the freedom and time for this spiritual development. My heart and prayers go out to those that are working and have children during this time, you are my heroes. For the first time in 18 years, I did not function as a Deacon for Easter and Christmas. Although it felt a bit weird, it was not as traumatic as I thought it would be. Being able to sit with Julie during Christmas morning Mass was very special and unfortunately novel.
On a personal level, 2020 was a good year. We feel lucky that nobody in our immediate or extended family has been affected by COVID. Despite the stress and turmoil of COVID and the unrest caused by racial injustice, I enjoyed another nice year of retirement. Our family was able to celebrate a wedding for our daughter Kristina in August and a second birthday for our granddaughter. Julie and I celebrated 40 years of marriage, not with our planned trip to France but with a nice outdoor dinner in Stillwater. Not comfortable with plane travel, we made some minor improvements to our tent trailer (popup) and did camping trips to Southeast Minnesota and Southwest Wisconsin to enjoy our favorite pastime of bicycling. We did more bicycling this summer as a way of relieving the stress and enjoying the beauty that our region has to offer. Sometimes it is good to be reminded of what a great place we are blessed to live in. With all the video work we did for putting our Masses on Youtube I picked up another hobby, video creation. Julie encouraged me to get a GoPro so I could create videos of our bicycling, hiking, and other adventures for my personal YouTube channel.
My lifelong love of photography blends well with this new hobby, but I also started to post daily pictures on Facebook to remind people of the beauty in our world to oppose all the negativity I was feeling this fall. Here is an album of my November posts.
The racial justice unrest that exploded in our state and country this summer caused me discomfort and kindled a desire to learn more about the underlying systemic racism that led us to this point. The more I read the more I hunger for our country to work hard towards changing the systems that keep people of color suppressed.
As I finish up this post, it is 2021 and I feel a sense of anticipation and trepidation as to what the new year will bring. New Years’ morning as I was praying with a cup of coffee and contemplating the new year I was excited for things to come; some weddings, some long trips later in the year, more hiking/biking adventures, some healing for our country, and other hopes. I have also made enough trips around the sun to realize there will be rough spots and struggles in the year to come, but believe faith in God, community, and determination will get us past them.
This also marks a year since I started writing a blog after many years of ignoring the Holy Spirit’s prompting. It was an interesting year of writing and at times the words just flowed and other times the words seemed to be stuck in my head and not able to flow out. I plan to continue to write blogs and hope they have been useful to you.
Wishing you all the best in 2021!
Peace, Love, and Blessings