This year’s been miserable in many ways, but the brilliance and ingenuity of our writers is not one of them. Their posts brought us comfort, gave words to our anger, graced us with welcome distractions, made us feel less alone, and generally bore witness to the reality of living in 2020. From March’s naïveté to December’s exhaustion, this year’s entire catalog is proof that even pandemics and poisonous politics can be spun, however feebly, into something worth reading.
Over the next three days, we’ll be sharing the best posts of the year according to our writers and editors. For today’s list, each writer picked their favorite of their own posts and briefly explained why they’re proud of it. Their picks are below in publication day order. Stick around to the end and you may even spot some old familiar faces!
Prone to Wander, Lord, I Feel It | Katerina Parsons
Sometimes I write for myself, just to order and make sense of my own thoughts. I come back to this piece to remember why I still have faith and what that means to me.
Waiting in the Dark | Ansley Kelly
This was my best and boldest attempt at writing about a season of confusion and darkness. In the midst of near-despondency, I wanted to articulate my belief that hope would come to call again.
An Inheritance of Names, Power, and Fabric | Comfort Sampong
This piece stemmed out of months of learning, conversing with family, and struggling with how to convey the politics and power of the visual. And yet it feels like a piece I will continue to adapt and rewrite as I grow in knowledge of my culture.
Ten Masks I’ve Worn | Alex Johnson
Writing this piece enabled me to honor my past, my parents, and the ways my different identities have mixed and melded over the years.
Yes, All Trump Voters | Ben Orlebeke
I only have five pieces under my belt—this one was quite raw and personal to write, and I think I made my point effectively.
My Top Ten Favorite Words | Josh Parks
I worked longer on this piece than any other this year (I had a list going for weeks), and I like how my final choices balance sound, sense, and story.
Awed By Her Splendor | Gwyneth Findlay
The breathtaking romance of our galactic fortune has been my tether to reality this year, although the scale of the universe hardly feels like reality at all.
And In the End | Jordan Petersen Kamp
I like weaving disparate threads together to make a point, and this piece felt most successful in doing that—while I was writing it and in retrospect.
A Few Reflections on Wind Through Trees | Lauren Cole
In this piece I tried out a more vignette style of writing, and I like the results. Trees are also my favorite topic to write about, it seems.
My Mom’s Kitchen | Olivia Harre
My time in my mom’s kitchen resonated with so many others’ experiences in their own mother’s kitchens, and that connection reminded me why I love writing!
Blessed Be Your Samhain | Finnely King-Scoular
I’m very proud of the flow and the way I was able to capture a very personal moment for others to hopefully find comfort in.
Pondering Punctuation, from Least to Most Delightful | Courtney Zonnefeld
In many ways, I find humorous pieces more challenging than serious ones, and I’m proud of this piece’s playful tone and unusual structure (underpinned by some absurdly nerdy Excel work).
Crushing It | Kyric Koning
A strong start to the year with some writing that’s more of a story than a blog post (and my preferred writing medium) and one of my all-time favorite stories ever, simply because of the reactions.
Marriage Advice from Someone Who’s Been Married Eleven Days | Laura Sheppard Song
This humor piece had surprising resonance, and I was glad I could channel my newlywed experience into laughs from others.
Interpreter of Maladies | Ben DeVries
Sometimes you peak early! I’m partial to most of my posts about how Jes and I have navigated life with chronic illness, and this one’s one among my favorites because of its quiet, but not uncomplicated, consideration of the ethics of storytelling—whose story, what kind of story, and told to whom.
The Matriarch | Lillie Spackman
I love my grandma deeply and am glad that I got to share a bit of her legacy.
Nainai | Chad Westra
I felt I was able to convey effectively in writing the warmth and love that Nainai radiated toward me that summer.
Pretty, Crazy, Dead Girls and Taylor Swift | Emily Joy Stroble
It’s always fun when you get to write about a pop artist and gothic literature.
Restaurant Diaries | Kayleigh Fongers
I feel like this was my breakthrough piece—the humor and the format worked well together, and people seemed to enjoy it.
My Father’s Presence | Alex Westenbroek
I really liked the emotion that came through in this piece.
The Boons and Banes of Ignorance | Joshua Polanski
I’m proud of this piece because it’s a bit outside my typical wheelhouse of literature, culture, and/or religion.
Curiosity and Moral Courage, or, a Commencement Address for Uncertain Times | Katie Van Zanen
This is one of those things I wrote for myself because I needed to hear it, and it’s become a mantra for me this year: curiosity. Moral courage.
Snail Saga, Pt. 3: Snails in the Shadow of COVID-19 | Annaka Koster
The conclusion of (if I may be so bold) the most epic snail-related adventure the post calvin has seen. Other pieces I crafted this year may have been better written or better structured, but this one captured what 2020 was for me. Long live Clive Snails Lewis.
Poison, Powersuits, and Blake Lively | Anna Jeffries VanZytveld
It was fun to write and, even better, a moderately meaningful exposition on the sharp teeth hidden under popular culture.
The Top Ten Strategies for Weathering COVID-19 | Jon Gorter
This piece stretched me to remember details and articulate larger themes of grief and hope. It was difficult to write, but the experience felt necessary to put down in words, and I’m glad I did.
Amateur Abortion Hour | Josh deLacy
Besides addressing a counter-productive culture war, this experimental piece invites the reader to engage with it physically. Toggle position statements between pro v. pro, pro-life, pro-choice, and amateur.
Roads: Untaken, Taken | Gabe Gunnink
I am immensely proud of my final essay for the post calvin because I captured all the tension and beauty I experienced during those six years of my life to the very best of my abilities.
Journals | Will Montei
It manages to be self-referential without being too snobby or self-deprecating. I don’t know how I did that.
Josh Parks graduated from Calvin in 2018 with a BA in English literature and violin performance, and he completed an MA program in medieval studies at Western Michigan University in 2020. He is currently a student at Princeton Theological Seminary, which means his plans to be in school forever are working out well. When not writing, he can be found playing violin, drinking coffee, making excruciating puns, and trying to learn Old French.