2020. Whew. Enough already.
What a year. And we are just three-quarters of the way through it! Ugh. It sure seems like a year unique unto itself. One that could use a fast-forward button to propel us out of 2020 and into 2021. But is it really any different? Sure, if you type “2020 is...” into your search bar the first thing to pop up is “a bad year,” but is it really any different than other years?
In 2020, there have been 24 hours in each day. And seven days in every week. The sun came up. The sun set. Winter gave way to the longer days of spring and the warmth of spring relinquished to the heat of summer just as every year that came before 2020 and every year that will follow.
But let’s be real. 2020 stinks.
And it is for those of us living through years just like 2020, that the author of Ecclesiastes writes these words, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” 2020 has come, and 2020 will go. Just like every year before it, and every year that will follow it. Be of a calm and patient heart, this year we know as 2020, it too shall pass.
Now the author of Ecclesiastes doesn’t just leave it at that for us to endure whatever comes our way with an understanding that life is reconfigured and recycled (both in the good and the bad) and nothing fresh is to be found in the human experience. Rather, the author tells us that we live in an ongoing cycle of seasons that come and go bringing their beauty and their trials to each of us individually and collectively. Our challenge is to know in which season we find ourselves living.
Among others: There is a season for planting and one for reaping. One for mourning and one for dancing. A season for weeping and one for laughing. One for staying silent and one for speaking boldly. A season for holding on and one for letting go. One for embracing and one for refraining from embracing.
It gives us peace and reduces our anxiety to know that 2020 is a year that will come and go. And as we discern the nature of the season in which we find ourselves living, we start to see depth in our field of vision, more profound hues in the landscape around us and the beauty of the light and shadows cast around us.
When we have answered the challenge of discerning the season in which we find ourselves; our author shares three actionable steps for us to take. First, “Join in the hope of all living things.” In whatever season we find ourselves, there is kinship of hope to be shared among other people and all of creation. Find your hope in the beauty of a flower garden, in the eyes of your canine companion, in the people around you. This kinship of hope among the living is there to sustain us with an open invitation for our participation.
Second, “Enjoy your life with whom you love and eat your bread with enjoyment.” 2020 is not a year to face up defiantly and engage on your own. It presents challenges of isolation that need to be met mindfully with a commitment to relationships even as our togetherness is challenged. Don’t go it alone. Engage the rest of this year and its seasons in companionship, and with a mindfulness and appreciation of the things that are good in life.
And our third actionable step, “Whatever your hands find to do, do it with your might.” Give it what you got. Engage. Push forward and don’t give up. Rest when you need to rest and then persist.
Engage your seasons. 2020 shall pass.