2020 is a year of crisis. 2020 is a year of courage.

Just one extraordinary thing that you did, speaking so much to our marriage. I sit in several organizations and committees that talk (a lot of talk) about anti-racism and white supremacy. But in the face of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, in this movement for Black lives, you listened to people, wept and prayed, deliberately and determinedly figured out your responsibility in your zone of action, enrolled and consulted people you care for and respect deeply, crafted an anti-racism statement for Chavez with great intention, navigated the politics of that brave speech with compassion, and compelled us to not just say something but to educate ourselves for our transformation.

I am amazed to think about the focus, love, caution, and courage you demonstrated there. It inspired Rafael to move our union. It modeled for other educators how we should respond in our classrooms and faculties. And it did all this while COVID and social distancing meant movements of hearts and minds had to happen online, during a summertime when people were so ready to disconnect and disengage.

We didn’t get the participation in the summer book club that we hoped for. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t a really needed and great plan, which you carried out with devotion and teacherly smarts.

And as much courage as you called forth toward Chavez standing for justice, that’s just everyday life for you.

When COVID hit, you made the difficult decisions, day after day. From initial shutdown, when I know it broke your heart to miss Sonny’s wedding in person, while sending your full support and love from home. Then, taking care of Eden on your own for two weeks, figuring out how to get groceries, making rhythms of being home with Eden that brought joy and maintained hope. Then, receiving (and tolerating) me and the degree of crazy-making and space-taking I brought back. Orchestrating the social bubble. Wiping down the groceries. Planning the beautiful vacations at Jack’s pool. Staying up on the science.

Your body and your breath have felt for years like they are embattled. Your immunity exhausted by the work it must do. This pandemic seems custom-tailored to threaten your fears of infection, which are not irrational nor paranoia, as borne out again and again by the struggles you’ve had and the diligence it requires to stay healthy. The twenty-four seven courage to never let your health troubles lead to despair. Everyday courage.

And I may not be in the best position to describe this, but there’s a courage even in your staying with me.

Yes, you are an exceptionally good mother, and our girl has a nurturing mom, a clever teacher, a creative mentor, an enthusiastic counselor, a compassion role model, a caring listener, a careful nurse, a Christian witness, and so much more, all rolled up into one.

But… how do I put this?… being married to me is waking up daily in front of a huge wall of unknown, unknown except that it will be huge. Will it be huge excitement that comes with an exhausting wave of expectations? Will it be huge discontent that comes with a scary flood of anger? Will it be huge anxiety that suddenly requires you to shut off all your habits and access to give me space for my work? Will it be huge sadness that demands your emotional energy to offer sympathy and pick up the emotional slack of happiness?

And then, atop those huge demands, you have to bravely confront yourself. In your family are many examples of people who’ve made survival and love happen by moving on, not by navel-gazing in paralysis but by making do with what you have, taking whatever ingredients you’ve got and creating magic with them.

The introspection, the self-searching and self-scrutiny, the courageous confrontation with your own limitations and sadder side-effects of survival… especially when those expectations breathe down your neck…

It takes courage to do yoga every day, on top of a regimen of medication you constantly have to self-monitor. Courage to plan for a very unknown future. Courage to make certain that necessities (from vegetables to safe play dates) stay within reach. Courage to seek counseling, prayer, and friendship to examine your own heart and stay human. Courage to lead without claiming privilege. Courage to keep going when those who you submit to aren’t very clear on what we’re doing.

In crises, courage is polished and shines. It winds up reflecting the light of Christ.

…and then, Christmas 2020