How do you measure a year | GUEST POST

How do you measure a year?

by The Rev. Callie Swanlund 
How do you measure a year?
When the first anniversary of my beloved parent’s death rolled in, my already-raw grief was broken wide open. No longer could I name the places we were and the laughs we shared six or nine months ago. No longer could I mark time with a series of lasts from the past 365 days. A whole year completed a circuit and cut me off completely from what was before.

We each have our own anniversary of when life changed for us around this time last year. Mine was Friday the 13th when I woke up terrified because of my fever and aches, and sought out one of only four tests available in the city.

Whatever your day was, your year-long circuit of a life lived in pandemic is recently or soon to be complete. On this one-year mark, it’s important to take time to mourn what we’ve lost and how our lives have been forever altered.

For some of us, it’s been a full year without a hug, or a full year without in-person school. A priest friend told me she hadn’t celebrated eucharist in a full year, and another friend is preparing to celebrate their second pandemic birthday. We remember watching the death toll and case count climb daily, some of our own beloveds included in that number.

This anniversary is important. Our bodies bear the tension. Our hearts ache. Our minds carry the burden.

Wholehearted Beloveds:
What has been lost for you in the past year?
What heartache do you carry?

There is plenty of time to name the growth and goodness and meaning making of this past year, and we will create space for that together. When Jesus was in the tomb for three days before rising, his beloveds mourned deeply. So this week, let us create space for one another’s grief. Let us mark this time together.

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments of fear.
five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure,
Measure a year?
In lost sleep?
In death tolls?
In zoom calls?
In cups of coffee?
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure a year of lost life?*

*Inspired by Rent

[This reflection was originally published as part of the Wholehearted Wednesday series, a movement Callie began to encourage deeper reflection and connection across social media platforms.]
The Rev. Callie Swanlund is an Episcopal priest serving in Philadelphia, helping others Find their Spark, and building a creative ministry. She leads individuals and groups in the work of Dr. Brené Brown as a Certified Daring Way Facilitator. Callie is a mama, creator, lover, and dreamer who has created a virtual and traveling space—The Epiphany Space—for others to discover and use their creative gifts, and learn the digital tools to tell their story. Find out more at, listen to her podcast Journey to Epiphany on all platforms, and follow her Wholehearted Wednesday movement through @callieswanlund on instagram.

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