At the end of 2021, I commented on the lost promise of that year. Despite the warnings of epidemiologists and other medical professionals, I like others hoped that the advent of vaccines would end the pandemic, or at least reduce its risks. As 2022 began, however, we were in the midst of the highest level of COVID-19 transmission we’d seen. Church of the Holy Cross UCC continued to worship online-only until the Sunday after Easter – a disappointment for certain.
Still, we did welcome a congregation into the sanctuary in April and were able to observe Pentecost, All Saints, and Christmas with gathered worshipers. We maintained precautions even then. The congregation did not sing hymns until December, so that the first songs they sang were Christmas carols. Our choir director, Doug Albertson, assembled a thirty-five plus voice choir plus string orchestra for a magnificent performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia of Christmas Carols. It was great fun to take part in that ensemble.
A glance at my photos will make someone wonder why I didn’t seem to get around as much as in previous years. There are a lot of flowers but not a lot of varied scenery. COVID remained a factor – I wanted to minimize my exposure so that it would minimize the risk I presented to others – but so was my transportation. Though the Chrysler 300 I’d bought on moving to Hilo continued to run just fine, some of its parts were definitely showing its sixteen years, and I began to avoid long drives. In November I replaced it with a new Kia, leading to the inevitable joke that this pastor finally has a Soul.
I did travel during the year. I attended my first in-person off-island conference since 2020 in May. I went to O’ahu for a disaster response event and spoke about the interfaith response to the Kilauea eruption of 2018. At the end of August I flew east to visit family and friends. I even managed to attend the Wyman family reunion (my paternal grandmother was a Wyman) and The Blandford Fair on Labor Day weekend. I enjoyed seeing everyone, and entirely forgot to get selfies with a good many of them. The trip home afforded the opportunity to get photos of a sunset over the Pacific.
For the most part the family is doing well. My kids continued to share an apartment this past year, but both are looking to moves in 2023. I have hopes that Rebekah’s ordination will come this next year, and Brendan is working toward beginning a Ph.D. program in English literature. Bekah has been working for The Julian Way, an organization focused on education and empowerment with, for, and by, persons of diverse embodiments. They work with congregations and other faith institutions to foster fully inclusive environments.
In October I attended the Pastoral Leaders’ Retreat on O’ahu, the first time we’ve had a full gathering for that event since 2019. Though I wasn’t on the leadership team, I was asked to find a musical selection for the occasion – and as is typical of me, I couldn’t think of one. The result was the song that leads the 2022: A Year video above: “Take the Labyrinth Road.”
It was a busy year musically. During Lent, I set a goal of writing one song for each of the six weeks of Lent. I did it (see: A Lenten Success). By year’s end, I’d written twelve new songs, equaling those produced in 2021. I sang one of my original songs each Wednesday and presented hour-long concerts via live stream twice a month. You can see them all (oh, my) on my YouTube channel in the Music playlist.
Music gave me a couple ways to deal with the stress of the year – and 2022 was certainly stressful. It was a creative outlet, of course, both in composition and in performance, though it could also be exhausting. It also became one of my chosen methods of “retail therapy” this year. During the pandemic I found that I would feel calmer while I waited for a package to arrive. In 2022, three of those packages contained new instruments: a Martin D-10E guitar in sapele wood in March, a Kala KA-ATP6-CTG 6-string ukulele in May, and a Kala KA-EBY-TE in striped ebony in July.
2022 brought some terribly painful times. I officiated at a series of funerals in the spring for people I had known and treasured, and there were more as the year went on. In June my friend and former colleague Drew Page stepped down from his work with the Southern New England Conference UCC. He had been suffering from cancer for two years and the disease had reached a stage where he wanted to give his time to family and friends. In July we talked via video chat. I wrote “To the Banks of the River Jordan,” and about four hours after I sang it live, he died.
I told a few other friends not to make me write such a song for them any time soon.
As the year ended, one of my cousins from my father’s generation, Don Pease, died. Once more my heart wept.
2022 has not been an easy year for grief. In May the United States suffered its one millionth death from COVID-19. At year’s end, many whose lies had contributed to the death toll via social media had recovered access to some of the platforms they’d abused. If I’d doubted that COVID was still around, I’d have been disabused of the notion by catching it in November. It laid me out exhausted for days. I did not fully recover my stamina until late December, just in time for the Christmas services (whew).
I was reelected Chair of the Hawai’i Conference Council in June and will serve until June 2024. My term as President of Interfaith Communities in Action will end in February of 2023, though I expect to continue working with the Steering Committee and Working Group on Family Homelessness. I was asked to rejoin the Hawai’i Island Association’s Committee on Ministry as we have a shortage of ordained ministers on the island who can serve. I have also continued on the Board of Directors of the Ku’ikahi Mediation Center.
May 2023 bring blessings to us all!