A Time for Silence | Personal Reflections on 2020


Hello, and a happy new year! I have missed this space, and I have missed the connection with those of you in this community. Thank you for your presence here even while I have been away, for your kind check-ins and patience with my silence. I’m grateful for you!

At the start of last year, I jotted down a single line of wisdom a local friend Michelle Thomas shared, “don’t ever leave a dark place empty-handed.” I found myself returning to that thought throughout the year, looking and listening for Wisdom in the midst of sheltering in place, in the midst of racial and political tensions, in the midst of living inside our home renovation for six months, in the midst of homeschooling, college applications, and parenting a household of children coming of age in it all.

I realized with sudden urgency after my last post in June that I needed to be truly silent for a time. In all the effort to “listen and learn” and know how to live with joy in a pandemic, I knew it would be easier to practice without social media and without adding my own thoughts on the noisy internet for a time. I remembered the ancient writings in Ecclesiastes, “For everything there is a season . . . a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” and decided it was truly my time for silence. So without notice, I parted with this space and my ideas for a time in order to learn how to pray, to read more deeply, to write with my pen and work with my hands at home, to be diligent about loving those in my home and community, and to listen for what God wanted to teach me about himself in the uncertainty.

The Psalmist writes, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Test me, and know my thoughts! See if there is any offensive/ hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (139:23-24). It was the first verse Olive and I memorized together this year, a posture of humility before God, admitting that we don’t see or know everything, even about ourselves. Our perspectives are always limited. My own prayers the last year often began with that request: Judge me. Know me. Lead me in your truth.

As we crossed the threshold of the new year and transition into a new presidency here in the US, it feels important to write down what it is I have learned. Thinking on Michelle’s wisdom last January, I asked myself two questions: What will I carry with me out of the 2020? What will I leave behind? I wanted to share a few brief of my own here for any of you interested. And if you care to share, I’d love to hear some of yours, too.

Things to carry:
Thanksgiving, especially in the hard stuff.
My Bible, to study and know the heart of God.
Kind words, to share generously.
Prayer, even when it wakes you in the night, even when it feels small and quiet, even when no one else knows. 
Differences, to “be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
Meals, for healing, community, and rest.
Joy, to never hold back. 
Courage. Always courage.

Things to leave behind:
Fear of saying the wrong thing.
Feelings of not being enough.

Share this post:


  1. I love these words Bethany. I am leaving behind many of the same things! Taking with me a new appreciation for community.

    1. Author

      Thank you, Rachael. Yes, I agree. The last year has highlighted the importance of connection, especially among those right where we are.

  2. I’ve missed your words! Things I’ll be bringing forward: spending time in the still and quiet, and seeking a new way of living less “connected” in the digital sense and more “connected” in all of the analog ones. I read once that analog is when values have infinite possibilities, and I love the idea of applying that in this modern world. Much love to you! xo

    1. Author

      It’s always lovely to be missed, Elissa. Thank you. Stillness and quiet always feel so appropriate for winter. Sending love to you in yours.

  3. Beautiful words as always. Thank you for taking the time to share them with us!

Leave a Comment

You May Also Like
A New Year, A Heart of Wisdom
A New Year, A Heart of Wisdom

How to Take Courage
How to Take Courage

Being Neighborly During Shelter in Place
Being Neighborly During Shelter in Place