Many of us are eager to close the chapter on 2020, a year that brought us the COVID-19 pandemic, a caustic presidential election in the United States, and the killing of George Floyd by police in the Collegeville Institute’s home state of Minnesota. It has also been quite a year here at Bearings Online. We welcomed our first cohort of Emerging Writers, who wrote compelling essays on topics like Black fatherhood, beekeeping, racial justice and the family farm, and dance in the church. Our Christian citizenship series offered faithful responses to the 2020 election. In addition, Susan Sink interviewed former Resident Scholars Don Saliers and Natalia Pecherskaya about their inspiring work.
We also featured flash nonfiction pieces about vocation from participants in Our Deep Wells: Writing on Vocation Across Race and Culture, a 2020 Collegeville Institute writing workshop led by Dori Baker and Patrice Gopo. Inspired by the Bearings Online interview with Patrick Reyes, the cohort shared short reflections that address the question: “Tell a story about a specific person, practice, or tradition that called you to life.”
As you peruse the lists below, we hope you enjoy looking back at the Bearings Online articles that our readers and staff have most enjoyed this year.
Top 10 articles from 2020*
Anne and Jeffery Rowthorn, Resident Scholars at the Collegeville Institute, wrote a litany about the coronavirus for use in places of worship.
We should not fool ourselves: we’re in this coronavirus thing for the long haul, and digital tools like Zoom won’t save us.
“As a person socialized as white in a racist culture, O’Connor does not intuitively grasp the psychic damage done by slavery.”
Katherine Willis Pershey reflects on her publishing journey as a mainline church pastor after reading Kate Bowler’s book on evangelical women celebrities.
If we have to live like monks for awhile, we had best heed the words that open the Rule of Saint Benedict: “Listen, my child.”
Writers must do what we’ve always done but with clearer intention, deeper integrity, and immense faith in our work’s value.
#7—The Methodist Split, Three Perspectives by Collegeville Institute-affiliated writers
In face of an impending split within the United Methodist Church, three alumni of the Collegeville Institute’s writing workshops share their reflections.
Resident Scholars Anne and Jeffery Rowthorn wrote a litany for all who are dying in hospitals alone, denied visits from family members.
Instead of being a haven of certainty for others, my family is now in a place of uncertainty.
#10—Moving to the Family Farm: Can I Work for Racial Justice When I Live on a Dirt Road? by Duncan Hilton
As Duncan Hilton and his fiancee move to a rural family farm in Vermont, he considers how to maintain a practice of racial justice.
Top 5 poems from 2020*
Staff favorites from 2020
We asked several staff members to highlight an article or poem from this year that particularly resonated with them. Below are their responses.
My favorite piece from Bearings Online this year was How to Write in a Pandemic by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew.
Andrew’s spiritual and practical tips for writing during a pandemic offered a welcomed boost of energy as I trudged through writer’s block. I especially appreciated her invitation to write by hand and be aware of my body as I write.
I enjoyed this poem, essay, and litany—creative writing that helped us make sense of the COVID-19 pandemic as it hit us in the spring and we’ve learned to live with it and through it in every season in 2020.
My pick this year is Reasons of the Heart by Kevin Georgas.
It is such an honest and harrowing, truthful and terrifying, telling of a father’s heart-wrenching experience. Scientific and medical descriptions, beautifully and richly and poetically understood through the voice of love. Pastor Georgas’s words moved me. His story touched my heart.
There were many great Bearings Online articles this year. A few that stand out to me are The Spiritual Practice of Conversation by Andrea Roske-Metcalfe, When Purpose Isn’t Enough by Kathleen Cahalan, Susan Sink’s interview with Pastor James Alberts II People Need to Do the Work, and Following God’s Will to Survive: An Interview with Patrick Reyes by Dori Baker.
I have also loved working with our new Emerging Writers cohort — go check out their essays here!
We published many fine poems this year, many of which reflected the strange sensations of living through the pandemic. One of the best was Claire Miller Colombo’s poem “Now’d.” In the early pandemic days, many people were remarking that the world, as human activity ceased, seemed louder. Colombo turns this to show how it is our ears that have changed, not the world, as in the early spring, like baby birds in a nest, we learn to hear and hungrily take in the world.
Happy New Year from all of us here at the Collegeville Institute.
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