For years I’ve been engaging in a practice of looking back before moving ahead. It started as a a post I shared at the end of every month and then transitioned to every season.
In the spirit of simplifying my online life, one change I’m making to this quarterly rhythm is I’m no longer going to be including the link up at the bottom of these posts.
I know there is a small community of you who still love to link your posts up and I have plans to find a more collaborative way for us to share what we’re learning in the months to come.
But in this time of transition, I still invite you to keep track of what you’re learning and share it in your own spaces as I trust you have done and will continue to do.
We are doing our best around here, setting the intention to engage inn reflection while also realizing we are all, in a way, relearning how to be people in the midst of countless transitions, questions, and reconsiderations.
Here are 10 things I’m learning in no particular order:
1. Guacamole is a magical food.
It’s just avacado, tomato, red onion, cilantro, kosher salt, pepper, and lime juice. Why then, pray-tell, when you put them all together do they create a combination of perfection? And why did it take me so long to start making it at home? We will never be the same again ever.
2. Mitchelville, SC housed the first self-governing community of freed slaves during the Civil War.
Months before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, this small area of Hilton Head Island was home to formerly enslaved people who created a thriving community together. They did so well that Harriet Tubman herself traveled there to learn how they might be able to duplicate these efforts in other communities.
According to this BBC article, “They were able to buy land, vote, farm for wages, and grow sweet potatoes and greens which provided vital supplements to their diets.There were elected officials, taxes, street cleaners, stores selling household goods, and crucially, compulsory education for children aged six to fifteen – the first law of its kind in South Carolina.”
This history is remarkable all by itself but even more? We’ve been visiting Hilton Head Island for over twenty years and I never knew this part of history.
My days of not knowing Black history are past and so while we were on the island in July, John and I drove up to learn what we could about these resilient people and their lives in Mitchelville on Hilton Head more than 150 years ago.
3. Not being racist is not the same as being anti-racist.
It’s been said a lot over the past three months, but there is a difference between being not racist and being anti-racist.
With gratitude to Dr. Lucretia Berry and her team at Brownicity, John and I are learning what that means specifically; for us, our family, and the way we move through the world. Black lives, families, hopes, history, and futures matter.
4. My first book got a new cover!
This isn’t so much something I learned as it is something that happened.
But two things I did learn is (1) when they recover an already existing book, you have to go through the cover process all over again. Which is kind of fun and also weird because you wrote that book 10 years ago. And (2) when you recover an existing book, all of the online retailers get extremely confused and the new cover version is hard to find.
But alas! Here she is.
5. “Supposed to be” no longer has any meaning.
“I was supposed to be in London right now . . . “
“We were supposed to be at a family reunion this weekend . . . ”
“School was supposed to start last week . . . “
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 2020 it’s that control is in fact exactly what they have always said: an illusion. To control, coerce, and manipulate is not our job (and if it was we’d be fired from it anyway.) Instead, we adapt, accept, acknowledge what we need to let go, and continue to do the next right thing.
6. The kingdom of God is most evident to me in the sacred overlap.
It’s that middle space where two separate circles come together. It’s the part they have in common, the middling part. J.R. Briggs wrote a book called The Sacred Overlap (I endorsed and recommend it!) and I found his words to be a ray of light in the midst of the heaviest fog.
When we’re afraid, either/or becomes our default mode as we seek to assuage the pain of uncertainty. Love is where we live between the extremes, not in the mushy middle.J.R. Briggs, The Sacred Overlap
7. Things can change quickly.
In late March, I remember saying out loud to someone “I wonder if years from now we will be shopping for cute masks at real places like Anthropologie!”
That idea seemed so foreign and far away. And then April came. Normal can change to super weird fast. But that means it can also change again.
Things will not always be the way they are now. From pandemics that pass (history says so) to kindergartners who grow (history tells us this too) we are ever changing, growing, and learning.
8. When in doubt, love.
In the midst of the rioting, the anger, the injustice, and confusion of this summer, I read this post by my friend Kaitlin – and it reminded me of the power of love.
In the midst of my daily parenting, inability to answer my kids hard questions, and regular mess ups – I’m reminded of the power of love.
In the midst of not knowing what the next literal minute will hold and not knowing if we’re doing this whole thing right – I’m reminded of the power, the call, the invitation to love.
Power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus
9. Trader Joes chocolate croissants are the easiest way to have a fancy breakfast.
How to make them:
- Buy them in a pack of four in the frozen section at Trader Joes.
- Set them on a baking sheet the night before.
- Go to bed.
- Wake up.
- Marvel at how big they got overnight.
- Put them in the oven.
- Take them out and impress your family.
10. Struggle reveals what is true.
He is the best man I know. During this time of quarantine, personal heartbreak, loss among those in our close community, and the struggles of daily life, John continues to be the one. I like him and I love him. He sees me and I’m grateful. I didn’t learn this for the first time this summer, but I’ve learned it in a new way.
This is what I know: Though the days of the old school blog link up are past, I still love having a community of people who value the art of reflection. I’m working on ways to make this practice a more communal one in the coming months, but for now, I’d love to hear what you’re learning in the comments below or on Instagram using #wwlcommunity. I’m always glad you’re here.