This is one of the most difficult pieces of writing I've ever done.
I believe I should address the lives we're now living. But what can I possibly say that hasn't already been said? Everyone I know is tired. Everyone is confused, concerned about what the future holds. We're unsure of how to negotiate our lives, individually and in community.
It feels as if we are living on constantly shifting ground.
For months now, we've dealt with the uncertainty of COVID-19. So many questions.
Physical questions. Should we stay six feet apart in groups of people, but still wear masks? Should we leave the masks off, but only gather outdoors? Should we venture out to stores, or have our groceries delivered? Should we go out for nonessential items? Is it safe to go to the beach? To the park? To church?
Financial questions. How long will people who've been furloughed or laid off be out of work? How many businesses will have to close? How long will unemployment checks last?
Emotional questions. How long must our hearts ache, missing physical contact with the people we love... children, grandchildren, family, friends? What do we do with the grief we feel when someone suffers in a hospital, with no family members at the bedside? What is the toll on our essential workers, who face constant exposure?
Mental questions. How do we handle the boredom? How many puzzles can one person work? How many TV shows do we binge before our brains go numb? How many books and news posts should we read, and how much content can we absorb when our brains are so overloaded? Will schools hold classes in the fall? And how do we still the fears and worries enough to rest?
And then, of course, spiritual questions. Where is God in all of this? If all things ultimately work for the good, what is that good, and what should our role be in seeing it through? Are we walking in the footsteps of Jesus, caring for others? And how do we do that from our homes?
But COVID is only a part of the national and personal unrest. The social and political turmoil in our country that has been churning for decades is boiling over, bringing with it an entirely different set of questions.
What is white privilege and how do whites acknowledge it? How do we even talk about it? What can we do to better understand the experiences of our sisters and brothers of color? What does systemic racism look like, and how can it be corrected? What can the individual do to foster change, to acknowledge the dignity of each person, to insure a more just society for all?
We can no longer be complacent about these issues, as a country or as individuals. We can no longer rely on old assumptions-about the lives we live in public, about mutual respect and civility, about equality.
Are you exhausted? I am.
I want to go back to life as it was six months ago. I could go to the movies, go out to eat, meet with my study group in person. I could have friends over, go shopping, travel. I could worship with my church family, pass the peace, and sing praises to God in the sanctuary.
Life is so much different now. More confined. More unstable. And we really don't know how long it will continue.
I do miss the life I lived before. But.
Six months ago, I was more interested in shopping, in accumulating things.
Six months ago, I made less of an effort to stay in touch with the important people in my life.
Six months ago, I spent a whole lot less time being still, and being thankful for the small blessings.
And six months ago, there was little meaningful, national conversation about our nation's deepest inequities. Racism. Sexism. Gender identity. Homophobia. And a host of others.
At this point in time, we do often seem to be standing on unsteady ground. Each day brings new questions, new answers. We're having to let go of many plans and expectations. We're constantly trying to re-orient ourselves to new realities. But we are talking. We are listening. We are engaged in ways we were not before.
So, how might we make wise choices as we live through these trying times? Well, Jesus made it quite clear. We are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds. And we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Isn't this an opportunity for all people to come together to fight two common enemies, enemies that affect each one of us, either directly or indirectly? We cannot close our eyes and pretend they are not there. Defeating these enemies requires that we take action, just as Jesus did. We speak out against injustice. We do what we can to stop the Corona Virus. As Pastor Kimber-lee said in last Sunday's sermon, what Jesus asks us to do is not always easy, or comfortable, or convenient. But we are called to live into God's vision of a loving, peaceful world.
May God continue to give us the strength to make it so.
Lou Ann Karabel