Christmas is behind us (Merry late Christmas to you!) and 2020 is about to come to a close. As I looked back on this year, I was surprised: I know it was a crappy year for many people. I’ve had my own share of disappointments. But I don’t look back with dread as you might expect. Here’s a recap:
January: I tried a microwave cupcake and saw a dwarf chicken. I finished a painting. And I was getting everything ready to go my internship in Seattle.
February: I signed my first author contract for a set of articles. Right after that, I flew to Seattle. Visited an antique show, a concert, and started working in a great church with a beautiful group of people.
March: Corona hit. At first, people around me thought I was overreacting when I said we would need to stay home and cancel events. But then it became clear that this was no ordinary flu. I had planned to stay in Seattle until August. But I had to return by the end of March. Still, I was not as sad as one might think: I had had a great time and learned a lot even in a short time. The team at church showed me how one can respond creatively to change. And I left knowing that I am walking under and open heaven, no matter where I go.
April: Since I couldn’t do my internship, I started studying a semester online. I lived at home. Not much special stuff. Except for the Easter cards: I made cards for all our neighbors as a little gift during Corona times. People ended up being very happy about the gift. Some called to say thank you, others sent a card, one person even baked a cake!
May: Things got really creative in May. I was working on illustrations, a children’s story, and did experiments with clay pottery and blacksmithing in the backyard. I built a table from recycled pallet wood. And I preached at my home church, with a short Playmobil video as part of it. It was fun to throw the toys around for a while!
June: I got to be part of an art show in Darmstadt (“Künstlernacht”). This was such a good experience: Even with social distancing restrictions we could connect with other artists and watch as visitors came by.
July: My former youth leader went hiking with a few of his friends, as he often did. But this time, he would not come back alive. He fell off a cliff. I wasn’t able to attend the funeral. But I said good-bye with an art tribute.
A few days later, I started work on some sketches for one of my children’s stories (Ryan’s Truck of Eggs).
August: A friend of mine got married and I got to play a song for the wedding. And I got more work done on “Ryan’s Truck of Eggs”, including watercolor tests.
September: I went on a spontaneous trip to Venice with my dad. And then on a road trip to visit my friend in Hamburg and my relatives near Hannover. And at a flea market in Hamburg, I got a real cowboy hat and a cool leather jacket. Always wanted those :)
October: I packed 6 boxes for “Operation Christmas Child” and set up an art exhibit at school.
November: Since we were surrounded by bad news, I made a “Good News” video of things that happened on campus. And we started to renovate the party basement at school. Primitive woodworking setup included!
December: I made money by selling a bunch of old books to a German online warehouse. And I started to turn a pile of plastic trash into a backpack. And that’s where I am now!
2020 wasn’t at all what I expected. I had my share of tears and discouragement. But overall, I’m at peace: I found the goals I had set for this year back in 2019. They were “Becoming a strong tree, Let Go, Learn to be a Leader, Next Steps in Art”. And to be honest, those things came true. I became stronger as a person, “rooted” like a tree in the peace and strength of God and of community. I learned to “let go” of what I can’t control. I learned to take initiative as a leader like never before. And I took some steps in my art/creativity. I guess the point is, they came true, not because I planned it, but because of grace and because I went through life with open eyes to see that grace. And they were mostly the type of goals that are related to personal or relational development, not trophy milestones you post online. Maybe that’s something we learned from 2020: relational connection matters more than selfish gain. And you can’t plan anything for certain. Social media and goals are not bad, you be happy about progress. But all progress is a gift of grace, not to taken for granted. And in the end, connection is more important than the instagram account or the career ladder. In that sense, 2020 is kind of like my “work in progress” recycled backpack and the recycled “tapestry” made of plastic: You never know where the road will lead, but even if it seems tedious, there is process. The trash is coming together, somehow. It’s work, it’s uncertain, but it’s also an adventure. I may not have chosen it, but I developed through it, and that’s something I’m grateful for. So, goodbye, 2020, and see you all in the new year!