Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

Happy New Year!

We have finally put the challenges and pain of 2020 behind us, so we can turn our attention to the challenges of 2021.

Most years, New Year’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. I appreciate the sense of anticipation and preparation of January.

Some of us believe in the power of planning and preparation, sorting out our calendars and trying to have a handle on what we hope to accomplish at the start of a new year. Others of us value our ability to be flexible and open, to respond to whatever the year decides to throw at us.

It was difficult, if not impossible, for us to have planned well for 2020. Circumstances changed dramatically for almost all of us early last year. Few of us ended the year where we expected to be last New Year’s.

Many of us were cut off from supportive communities, particularly in our spiritual lives and our enjoyment of craft breweries. Many of our friendships and other relationships were moved online. We have lost the sense of being surrounded by other people who share our values. Many of our intimate times of sharing and conversation have been missing for months.

Our best plans a year ago could not anticipate what last year would actually bring into our lives. Some of us have lost people we love, jobs to which we felt a calling, traditions and ways of living which supported our everyday lives.

Last year seems to be a strong argument for us to rely on our own flexibility and skills in adapting to change. How will we even begin to anticipate the twists and turns of 2021?

Some of us are primarily optimistic, depending on life to heal and, possibly, even return to “normal.” We see the rapid development of effective vaccines as a step in the right direction for 2021.

Others of us live our lives waiting for the other shoe to drop. After a year with a pandemic killing hundreds of thousands of people around the world, wildfires in California, hurricanes and tornadoes, flooding and deadly insects, who knows what will happen next?

I cannot imagine what challenges might be waiting for us in 2021. Still, I look forward and try to anticipate times of joy during this new year.

Part of my community which have been challenged by the pandemic and isolation orders is my friends in craft breweries. Many of them have sustained themselves by adapting to offer pickup service and other alternatives. Some of them have not been able to continue brewing.

One of the things we can do as we move forward into 2021 is remember them.

Picking up and taking some of their beer home is great, but it is not enough to keep many of them going. I am eagerly looking forward to the next time I can stop in and taste their newest brews.

Craft beer and breweries are an important aspect of my planning for 2021. In the same way spiritual life inspires me and keeps me moving, craft breweries motivate me.

I am checking craft brewery websites regularly, and waiting for the day to return when we can leave home and go visiting a brewery or two. Or maybe more.

There will be a day, not particularly long from now, when we will look back to remember 2020 and the lessons it taught us. One of those lessons, for me, is about the balance between planning and preparation on one hand, and openness and flexibility on the other.

Life does not always go the way we plan or expect it. It is an adventure for which we try to prepare, and which we cannot predict. We live it one day at a time, then we tell the stories in a craft brewery tasting room.

I look forward to the day we meet in one of those breweries again soon.

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg has served as an assistant district attorney and an associate university professor. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com, and he writes a blog for the Contemplative channel on http://www.patheos.com.

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