Our Pieced-Together Past Year

One year ago our whole world changed.

I remember mid-March oh so well. I had spent the last 3 weeks of February in bed with a horrible flu and bronchitis (!) but was finally back teaching at the high school. Already the news flashes of this novel “coronavirus” were becoming more and more alarming and I decided that I wouldn’t accept any substitute days after Friday March 13th. Just in case. We had invited friends over for the following Monday to celebrate our son’s 45th Birthday and now even that was being reconsidered as risky.

By Saturday morning, the world around us basically shut down.

Schools closed, all my speaking engagements were cancelled (did I mention my new book had just released?) and my husband and I stayed at home without going anywhere for the next 100 days. Groceries were delivered and we tried to walk in our neighborhood with our son each day – socially distanced, of course.

We watched the news (too much) and I kept Covid cases and death numbers listed in my prayer book. Soon our lives were thrust into full worldwide pandemic and I began to pivot in ministry—learning far more new technology than I ever thought possible, just to stay connected.

Everyone was anxious, frightened, and forced into relinquishing our lives to the unknown. I asked God to calm and steady me, to keep me soul strong so I might be useful, somehow.

As I think about my life from March 2020 until March 2021, the image that comes to mind is a patchwork quilt. A pieced-together year.

In the midst of each day-which-melted-into-every-other-day, the individual pieces seemed to make no sense at all. Some days were dark and scary and full of sorrow and depression; the blacks and browns of rough wool scraps that begged to be throwaways.  But other days were bright with hope and promise and moving forward into new projects that I finally had the opportunity to do; these colorful patterns of cool silk were more welcome to the tapestry of my life.

Looking back now, I realize that there was indeed a pattern – orchestrated by the Master Designer with my good in mind. That all the pieces — both dark and light — would eventually weave together for something beautiful and strong. Threads of loss (so much loss) and threads of unexpected provision (new discoveries through enforced isolation) tied together a masterpiece crafted of ordinary people experiencing God’s extraordinary grace.

Every single day. 

One thing I kept re-learning was how to release – place my every moment, my every loved one, my every need, my every fear before the God who loves me and never changes.

Someday I will write it all down, just for myself, to further elaborate on my final blog for 2020:  “A Dozen Things I Learned in 2020.” 

Back in 1999 when my book “Quilts from Heaven” was first released, I discovered this wonderful scripture which reminded me so much of the Divine Quilter.

“God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before Him.”  Psalm 18.20 MSG

There is a place for every single piece in the quilt of our lives, but we must make a choice to offer up everything to the Artist of our souls…

Just because it’s been a year, that doesn’t mean the COVID crisis is over. My quilt isn’t done yet, just because I’m tired and ready to return to so many life-giving things.

Today I read a prayer which helped name before God some of my own feelings and yearnings. It seemed a good way to end this blog with prayer, so I share it with you and ask that together we determine to remain steadfast and soul strong in whatever lies ahead.

Prayer for One Year into the Pandemic

God, you hold our memories of this past year in your capable hands. I imagine you’re weaving the moments that have shaped us into what will be a beautiful quilt, bringing all of the collective grief and the individual sorrow, the small delights and ordinary goodnesses, the moments we were afraid and angry alongside of the moments when we felt joy and contentment, all stitched together with your grace for it all. Wrap us up in the warmth of your love, knowing we are held, beloved, worthy just as we are in this moment.

Help us to name and remember what we have lost, what we have gained, and where we saw you at work in this broken and beloved world. Help us to be gentle with ourselves and with each other, we’re still not done yet. Help us to see the world more clearly and to love each other more particularly.

May we always find you in the small ordinary things of our lives. May we always see the world as it is now and always, and love it all the more for the very things that break our hearts.

Jesus, would you give us unexpected hope today? May we be surprised with a moment of joy, a good meal, a deep breath, a bit of beauty. May our roots go down deep into your marvelous Love. May we bear fruit even in times of famine. May we be small outposts of truth and love together. May we read good books, be gentle with our wounds, text a friend, or simply go for a walk with You.

May we know you in the silence, in the exhaustion and anger, in the grief and joy, and in our humanity which you blessed and called good. And we ask for an end to the suffering and for your justice to roll down, your healing to mend us, your love to hold us all even when we are in pieces. We love you. Amen. (Sarah Bessey)

Most of us are still in pieces, even today, but oh dear friend, WE ARE HELD…

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2021 Lucinda Secrest McDowell      www.LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com

Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouraging words at LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com

Enjoy 40 Days of Lenten Devotions “Renew” in my book “Dwelling Places” HERE

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  1. Cindy Bolshaw on March 10, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you for your wonderful reflection on the patch work which we see as the full covering quilt of God’s purpose in our lives. We are not done. He is not done. But we are His, always.

  2. Marilyn Nutter on March 10, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    Lucinda, thank you! I’m away with friends and just read this aloud. Enriched and thankful by your reflections leading us to ours- and the prayer so much our heart as well. Blessings, Marilyn

  3. Maggie Rowe on March 10, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    Psalm 24:20 is a perfect way to look at last year, and this one as well. Many of the pieces still need to come together, but we know Who is in charge of the pattern. QUILTS FROM HEAVEN is one of my favorite books of ours (although it has stiff competition from your other 14.)

    Thanks for this!

  4. Maggie Rowe on March 10, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    Oops – I just looked up Psalm 24 and it only has 10 verses…misprint?

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on March 10, 2021 at 4:00 pm

      Thank you Maggie. Keen eye — yes I made a typo. Psalm 18,24 GOD made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him.

      • Lucinda on March 10, 2021 at 6:28 pm

        PSALM 18.20

  5. Susan Andresen on March 12, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    I read it aloud and choked on it because I was weeping. Thank you.

  6. Nancy J Smith on March 13, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    Well said. Each of us has been working on our own quilt with God guiding each placement and stitch… Very difficult year for everyone. No matter how hard I tried to be grateful for what we had rather than missed the situation looked a mess… Like the back side of the quilt. Thankful He sees the end result! 😊. Nancy

  7. Teresa A Moyer on May 11, 2021 at 5:42 am

    God has been good to me over the last year with COVID changing everything. Doors opened for me when for so many others they shut. I grew during this last year in ways I do not think I would have if it had not been for everything shutting down. But even for me, who is an extreme introvert, this had reached a breaking point. Being single and living alone this isolation has begun to tug on my mental health. But wearing a mask when it causes PTSD panic attacks has also tugged on my mental health. But God…despite low days I know I am never alone and God is creating a new “me” with all the pieces I have given Him to rebuild me in this time of change.

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