2020 has been a year unlike any other, and if you’re anything like me, you’re still trying to find meaning in the midst of the mess. As I’ve been working through things in real-time, I have also wondered what I will tell future generations about what it was like to live through 2020. I’ve been journaling a lot this year, trying to record my own snapshots of what life is like, but what I’ve not done yet is to spend intentional time trying to pull all of that together. Writing—even if no one else ever reads it!—can be a powerful way to work through thoughts and emotions, and to begin to make meaning even while we’re still in the midst of the chaos.
With that in mind, I would like to introduce you all to my good friend Lauren Graeber who will be leading us through a four-week writing workshop titled “Putting Words to 2020: A Writing Workshop.” The workshop will take place over Zoom on Sundays, October 25–November 15, 3:00–4:30 p.m. Lauren Graeber, M.Div, M.A.Ed is a writer and a writing teacher, a mother and a partner, AND an Episcopalian since 2016. She is the Co-Director of the Center for Prayer and Spirituality at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in High Point, N.C. and offers writing workshops of all kinds for area churches and organizations. Below is her introduction to this workshop. I hope that you will join us.
Twentieth century mystic and philosopher Simone Weil wrote, “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love. Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.” This year has been an especially difficult time to pay attention as it seems new crises, personal and collective, continually emerge. Yet 2020 is a year crying out for our absolutely unmixed attention to the myriad ways we are being reshaped, both as people and communities, and by the overlapping dramas around us. What has this year been like for you? What has 2020 done to your life?
The spiritual practice of writing is one way to create meaning out of chaos and to discover the Divine presence in the middle of it. Writing demands sustained attention and rewards with moments of clarity and reassurance. It is an act of prayer as old as our sacred scriptures. Join me and others as we engage this spiritual practice over four Sunday afternoons. No writing experience is necessary, only curiosity and a pen.
To find our way through 2020 with hope and grace requires that we, like Adrienne Rich insists, dive into the wreck in order to see “the damage that was done and the treasures that prevail.” And to do that, we’ll search for the right words; we’ll write our way towards meaning. Take four weeks to name what your life has been like, where God has appeared, where hope felt like a risk, where joy showed up unexpectedly.
The Reverend Amanda C. Stephenson, Associate Rector