This will be my last newsletter for this year. I’ll be taking a two week break over the holidays, and second week of January, I’ll be back—and hopefully better.
And more importantly, I’ll be regular again.
In the meantime, I’ve been recovering from an unexpected COVID infection right around Christmas. It was surprising because I’d somehow never tested positive since the pandemic started. It hasn’t been too bad, thankfully—being fully vaccinated (including a booster dose) has probably helped there. So I’ve had a dry cough (which was my first symptom alert), a headache and body aches. I didn’t lose my sense of taste or smell though, which I’ve been very grateful for: when you’re stuck at home, it’s nice to be able to still enjoy the simple pleasure of eating.
Honestly the hardest part really has been the weirdness of catching up on my Apple Watch goal for December—about 6 km daily—right in my living room when that’s the least interesting form of exercise to me. I’ve come too close to the goal to give up now, so my competitive side has kicked in. But I count myself incredibly lucky that that’s been my biggest complaint.
Stay safe out there, and get your boosters as soon as you possibly can.
I have been thinking about what my review for this year might look like, and in my writing group (yes, I have one now!) we talked about how we are often reluctant to do reviews. They just feel tedious, you know? But then the idea came up to think about them as a narrative, and that sparked everyone’s interest.
The idea is basically to think less in terms of goals and more in terms of a story. What would the story of your year look like? And what story would you like to write for the next year?
I’ve been thinking about my answers to those questions, and will be sharing more soon, but what immediately struck me was that the arc of this year has for me been defined by a number of new and rich relationships. I can’t tell the story of this year apart from the really amazing people, in church and at work, that I’ve got to know and be enriched by.
In the end, it really has been about the friends I met along the way.
Thinking about the whole idea of narratives also reminded me of a common practice in the Pentecostal churches I grew up around this time of year: the “word” for the year. The idea was that the leader would share a statement, usually a Bible verse, that the congregation was expected to hold on to for the year ahead, as sort of a prophecy.
I sometimes like to take the idea literally and actually think about what single word would capture my past year, and what word captures my hope for the next? But it occurs to me now that if I’m thinking about my time as a story, then the word is like a title for that story.
I think my word for last year would be: returning. Returning to the things that matter: faith, words, and relationships. And for the year coming, the word that comes to mind is renewing. Still thinking about that though.
What would yours be?
Denying suffering is denying reality (quote)
This week’s quote is from a book with one of my favourite titles ever: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. The unusually long title captures the practice of Christian faith for me more than I’ve seen from some entire books. But the quote is about the way we think about suffering, and while it focuses on America, I think it’s pervasive in the West, and increasingly across the world in general.
What do you think of it?
Time to think about time (song)
I couldn’t say it better than they do:
Time is illusion, time is a curse
Time is all these things and worse
But our time is now…
Let us sing before our time runs out
Here’s to your finding—and singing—your song.
Time is a machete: when you have it, cut with it quickly, before it's out of your hand.
Once again, I’ll be taking a two week break and Notes on Being Human will be back the second week of January 2022. Until then, a very merry Christmas to you, and the happiest of new years—God knows we could all use one!
Have fun, keep well, enjoy time with those you love, and let’s catch up again the other side of the year.