Not What It Seems: 2020 In Review

As 2020 comes to an end it seems like we need to reflect on this last year. I have really enjoyed a much needed break, but even being much better rested I am not sure I have the needed intestinal fortitude needed to really review this year. It was not what any of us expected or where hoping for. A cursory look back on 2020 reminds me of something my dad used to say, ” So, otherwise Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” It was a tough year for all of us regarding from the Covid-19, the teetering medical system, all things Trump and election, economic collapse, the myriad of racial issues in this country that came to light, not having seen my mother in way way too long, and social isolation in general. It was just a very difficult year.

And the same time I really count my blessings this year. While we did get sick, it was really very mild. While It has been month and month since my kids have seen my mother, they now talk to her every day. While my work feel very different than expected, it is still important and challenging. While I miss our community, we feel taken care of my those who looked after our needs when we were sick. Upon reflection the biggest blessing from an otherwise terrible year has been my ability to be present for my family this past year. I would not trade that time for anything.

When reflecting on 2020 I keep on coming back to one of my favorite stories. Here is a version:

There was once a great man. He used to study at night, and sometimes he got a famous visitor—once he was visited by Elijah the Prophet. “Come,” said the prophet ” I want to see whether your neighbors are hospitable. Together we will disguise ourselves as beggars. But no matter what happens, I want you to observe without asking me any questions or seeking any explanations.” And so it came to pass. They left and came to a very poor hovel, hardly worthy of human occupation. They knocked and found that a poor farmer and his wife lived there together with a cow, their only possession, which provided their meager livelihood: they sold milk in the next village, and drank what was left. It kept them from starving. The farmer couple was poor but very friendly, and ushered the two “beggars” in. They let them sleep on their best straw (they had no beds), and they shared a slice of hard bread and a cracked bowl of milk from their cow with them. They entertained the guests with friendly conversation until they went to sleep. In middle of the night the pious man noticed that Elijah had slipped away to overhear Elijah prayer for the death of their cow. The next morning they woke up to a terrible scream. The farmer’s wife had gone to milk the cow, had found the animal stretched out on the floor, stiff and dead. “How will we live?” she wailed. “Now we will die, too!” While befuddled and curious the man did not question Elijah. They had to leave their hosts sobbing. That evening they came into a village and they found a nice house made of brick: servants were bustling about, and they were told that the wealthy owner of this nice house was preparing a party and the host turned them away. And so, the man and Elijah went to sleep with an empty stomach. The man awoke the next day to see Elijah praying by the wall of the wealthy man. And just like that a miracle happened and a crack within in the wall was repaired. At this point the man could not take it anymore and demanded to know why Elijah needed to punish the righteous and reward the wicked. Elijah said to him, “There is more to things than what meets the eye . . .When we were sleeping in the poor couple’s hut, I heard the angel of death, who had come to take the life of the farmer’s wife. I pleaded with him and I convinced him to take the cow in her stead. And of the miser?” In the wall was hidden a jar with gold coins he did not deserve. Do you have any more questions?” “No,” said the man. “Now I understand that this world is not what it seems to be to us, and we can only trust that justice will be done. Thank you for taking me on your trip . . .” And with this Elijah disappeared. (Adapted from

When thinking about this story and the myriad of blessings I have in my life, I realize that this last year could have been a lot worse. Hope that 2021 is a year of healing and repair, we need it. We have a lot of work to do to put all of the lessons of 2020 into action to make 2021 a real blessing for everyone.

Forest Service looks to move dead cow on Sopris trail |

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