My word for 2020

“Embrace” by Brooke Rothshank, a miniaturist and 2000 Goshen College alumna. Find more of her artwork at:

Last year, I began this blog with the word “Hope.” Hope has been a sturdy companion, and if you need to dive deeply into Hope as we enter this new year, I commend to you Cynthia Bourgealt’s small book Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God, and Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone’s Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy.

This Christmas break I wove a cocoon of home, family, sleep and quiet. Yielding to rest and reflection, as I gradually set aside my overworked thinking, planning, anticipating mind. So very good.

Now the new year beckons and draws me forward. All cocoons are temporary habitations, and my energy rises.

I am ready for a new word for the new year, and it will be embrace.

I have been drawing upon the life and works of Teresa of Avila, who led a monastic movement in 16th century Spain. She was a shrewd administrator who drew upon an unusually deep and vivid prayer life combined with a strong call to transformative action within human society. She was a contemplative pragmatist. 

Teresa herself wrote: “What the Lord wants is works!” and “Here my daughters is where love will be seen: not in corners but in the midst of occasions of falling. . . . How could it be known if a man were valiant if he were not seen in battle? St. Peter thought he was very courageous; see how he acted when the occasion presented itself.”

Dwight Judy writes (in his book Embracing God: Praying with Teresa of Avila) that Teresa “would unashamedly invite us to undertake great tasks that stir our hearts, to let them be shaped and given form in the conflict and constructive dialogue with the ideas of others.”

From the simplest daily acts of kindness to the most complex social challenges, let us embrace God’s arms of love embracing our world.” 

Happy New Year, friends!

Rebecca Stoltzfus