Every January, I choose a word for the new year, a word to guide my thoughts, my actions, the things I lean into and the things I let go of. This year, I chose the word rooted. Meaning to establish or settle firmly. I began the new year with a vision of a tree, a great big ancient thing with gnarled roots. I wanted to be that tree. I wanted to be established firmly in every area of my life.
Knowing what I know now, I cannot help but smile a little as I look back because what was I this year if not rooted? I quite literally sheltered myself and my family in our home, where we have spent the majority of our lives since March 13, the day I’ll never forget. 2020 was a year of settling in, and it’s almost like a piece of me, deep in my bones sensed it coming. And so I vowed to be rooted.
I was rooted in my body, in the skin I inhabit and all its glorious imperfections. I took up yoga this year, and every time I ground my body down into the mat, I cry. Rooted.
I spent most of my time outside this year, barefoot, dipping toes in our swimming pool or feeling the hot stone of our front stoop on my arch as I watched my children play. I walked through grass, picking flowers and releasing butterflies we’d grown from caterpillars. What a gift to befriend the very earth from which I came. Rooted.
I nourished myself with food made from my own hands, loaves of warm bread, greens I’d picked off the stem, boiled together with peppers and oil. Rooted.
I was rooted in my marriage, standing up for and standing with the man who loved me back to life amidst gossip and hurtful words and betrayals. We clung to one another, and clung to God, and dug in our heels for what we knew was right. Rooted.
I was rooted in my mothering, in how I spilled over for the two who needed so very much of me this year, a year they didn’t know how to make sense of. I anchored down to make myself their guide, their protector, their home. Rooted.
I was rooted in my faith and my studies and my work, in living in the holy tension of God’s kingdom now and also not yet. I was rooted in the rhythms of the everyday, of sacred bleeding into secular, of God in all things, particularly the ordinary. I shook off a faith that required me to stay small, stay silent, keep the status quo, keep the outsiders out and the insiders in. I threw open doors and set wide tables; I preached and prayed and prophesied; I did the work I knew I was called to and didn’t worry about whether or not it looked it different than somebody else’s. Rooted.
I’m still mulling over what I think my word for next year will be — more to come on that later. For now, I acknowledge that one of the things this brutal year has shown me is that it’s possible to quit looking ahead for what’s next, what’s new, and settle in to what simply is right here and now. Maybe, for a while, at least, there is nothing else just around the corner; maybe this moment, this season, these people, this is all we’ve got. I think we owe it to ourselves to be fully where our feet are, to look around at this life we’re building, and declare it fully, wholly, completely good, and root ourselves there.