For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Sarah Katreen Hoggatt, the Communications Coordinator for Open Door Churches. In addition to designing many of the posters you see and creating the newsletters, I have also been producing all the worship videos since May 2020. As a writer, it a joy to step out from behind the scenes for a moment to talk with you.
Though I don’t know most of you, I imagine you’re going through a lot right now, things that may have nothing to do with the news and others, like a COVID-19 illness or death, that do. I wish I could wrap you all in a hug, letting you know you’re not alone and in the light of what happened last week, it feels like there is little I can say today to help. What I can offer you, though, is what has helped me through these crazy months nearing a year.
Aside from the love of my wife which has been life-changing in itself, especially throughout the pandemic, I have worked to find those tangible things that center me in joy, that give me a sense of progress and growth in the midst of turbulent times. There was the initial organize the closets and cupboards phase (which now need to be redone), find all the spring flowers phase, reorganizing my finances phase (I actually love personal finance), pull the weeds phase (they’re winning), the bike riding phase, the cookie baking phase (my wife loved this one), the running phase (I should bring this one back), and now we are into the dot journaling phase.
Going through these phases, one building on top of another, have actually been hugely helpful throughout these months by giving me something fun to focus on other than the world around me, something tangible I can work on. While the news continues to be unlike any I have ever seen before and we continually reach new levels of jaw-dropping headlines, it would be easy for my empathetic heart to cry and get lost in the muck of it all. Instead, I have tried to keep the ballast in my ship, the weight at my center that keeps me upright in the storms. This hasn’t always worked for me and tears are not always an ill. The fires, especially, broke my heart, as the forests and trees I loved burned. The yard in the front of our house which normally seems so safe from it all, became unsafe and I haven’t been able to look at it in the same way since. Family members lost their home just weeks after another family member died in a helicopter crash. The year 2020 was truly a hard year for us all.
What I do know is that God is still here. The Voice is still speaking and sometimes we have to turn off the news to find the quiet to hear it and listen to where the Voice is calling us and where our souls long to go. We need to each continually re-find the centers in ourselves coinciding with the center of God so we aren’t pushed over by the howling winds. Maybe this is a quiet moment of communion with God over a cup of coffee. Maybe it’s by reminding yourself of the power we each have to live, make choices, and create a better future. To do this, you can become involved in social justice, help a stranger, or even organize that closet (yes, that closet) and donate the items you don’t need to someone who does. Maybe, like me, you just need a good book, a new dot journal, a walk in the cemetery, or goals to strive for. Maybe you need weeds to pull so you can see what visual progress you’ve made (I have plenty to pull if you don’t have any of your own). Whatever it is you choose, make it what you need in this time and place.
If these times have taught me anything, it’s these two things: never take anyone for granted (for me, especially my wife) and stormy waters are easier to navigate with the ballast of quiet moments, self-care, and time consciously connected to God. With these, even when my boat tips over in the storm, I know it will eventually come back up once more. No matter what you’re going through today, I hope you find those moments of higher beauty, eternal life, and grace in your days. You are loved. Even when the road is dark, the light is always stronger still.
Sarah Katreen Hoggatt