The last day of 2020 is finally here. We survived. We made it. We got through it. It was a year of breaking down- our routines, our traditions, our sense of safety, and life as we knew it. But with all the trauma, exhaustion, uncertainty, anxiety and loss, it was still a year of living. We ate, slept, read, watched TV, cooked, talked, walked and worked. We maintained relationships and friendships, developed new ones and let go of less important ones. We cried and screamed and hugged and prayed. Isn't that what makes up every year? I grew up listening to my mother, a Virginia Woolf scholar, talk about "moments of being", those moments in which an individual experiences a sense of reality, in contrast to the states of "non-being" that dominate most of an individual's conscious life, in which they are separated from reality by a protective covering.
This was a year that left us without our protective covering, and thus more likely to experience these real and very poignant moments! Moments of being, I was taught, could be the a result of shock, discovery or revelation. Or just an experience that moved us to feel. In 2020, we experienced moments that ripped us open and moments that filled us with warmth. Let's reflect on those moments of being in all our lives; the magnificent and the heartbreaking. As Jonathan Safran Foer said "you cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness." So why try to protect ourselves at all? We have learned to be open to what matters, and in our raw and unprotected state, we have been able to hold on simultaneously to the tragic as well as the cherished moments. A phone call from an old friend, a baby's first words, the comfort of a loved one, an uncontrollable laugh about nothing, seeing a parent for the first time in months, holding hands while watching the news and fearing the worst, a long walk on the beach, a college graduation or birthday on Zoom.. These moments of being make up every year. We learn from Abraham Heschel that "the higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information; but to face sacred moments, to open doors into the life we already have. Instead of building a road to somewhere other than where we are, the life of the spirit requires us to open the doors that wait before us and within us." It is in opening the doors to our life as it is, flawed, imperfect, challenged, disappointing, abundant and glorious, and embracing all the moments of being, seeing them as sacred and allowing them to have an impact on our soul that gives our lives meaning. So, although everyone may be making ridiculous New Year's resolutions to work out more, lose weight and organize closets, you don't have to. We are talking about moments of BE-ing. You don't have to DO anything. There is value however in giving thought to who you want to BE as we begin the New Year. As I contemplate who I want to be in 2021, I recall my favorite Maya Angelou quote. "I've learned that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." I enter this New Year with a commitment to make the people around me, both near and far, those new and old relationships, at work and at home, feel loved and supported. It has been an honor welcoming you to The Gatherings this past year. Look forward to seeing you on Sunday and starting the New Year off with calm, community and contemplation. Feel free to send this to someone you think would enjoy. With love and light,