Today I want to talk to you face-to-face. The situation in which I now find myself—in which you might also find yourself—has pulled me away from any well-intentioned writer’s façade. This feels like a propitious moment for me to take off my mask, so that you can see what’s going on inside of me during these times.
I don’t’ think I’m handling this situation like the spiritually centered person I claim to be. As a believer, follower/disciple or leader/steward, I’m supposed to have a grip on how to handle tough times. I can quote chapter and verse the Scripture’s stories and wisdom about what’s happening now, but that doesn’t seem to keep away from me the same anxieties that I see around me.
If I’m as spiritually centered as I claim, why don’t I behave much differently than those whose only god is themselves? Granted, I’m not hoarding or partying or disregarding others’ well-being—but at my core I don’t feel like much of an example for others. Like many others, I’m perpetually angry about our President; I let my worries seep too easily into conversations and I pile up dystopian scenarios during sleepless hours at night.
Another thing that weighs on me: The burdens that so many other people are quietly carrying. Not just in obvious roles—caregivers, medical workers, first responders, government officials or other essential workers—but also in places where the hurts and worries and vulnerabilities are circling around people who don’t have any way out of their troubles. What’s it feel like to wait in a miles-long line of cars for a week’s worth of free food? What’s inside the feelings of teens or young adults whose future is stuck in Limbo Land? What’s life like for the frail elderly who are isolated in long-term care facilities? I think about underpaid meat workers, truck drivers who haven’t been home in months, those for whom “stay at home” is unpleasant or worse. The pastors whose lifework has been thrown into a kind of chaos that only they know. I feel for all these people, but that probably isn’t enough.
I don’t know if this makes sense, but I feel small right now. I don’t like the sense of being an eternally small boat on a growingly chaotic ocean. I don’t like the solitariness of stay-at-home-ness. And to be honest, I feel a little guilty that I’m not suffering like so many other people are—that my little boat is still a safe place. I thought I was bigger than this, stronger and wiser than the average person.
There are other sides to this pandemic, of course. As disregard gathers around him, our flailing president worries about the possibility of his own illness. Greedy and selfish people are being found out. Journalists are drilling down into truth everywhere. New leaders have emerged, showing us good reasons to follow their counsel and example. Churches are seeing (virtual) worship attendance increase. Creative adaptations to stay-at-home life are sprouting like Spring flowers. People are slowing down, getting to know each other more intimately, examining what’s truly important and what’s not. Examples of selfless generosity, gratitude, caring and solidarity are everywhere. Quietly and caringly, brilliant scientists are inventing brilliant cures. Invisible kindnesses are coalescing into a society-wide narrative about the highest and most noble parts human nature. By God’s grace, a whole lot of godly living is still happening.
There. Done. Thanks for looking me in the eye and reading these blogs as they come your way. Mask or no mask, I hope to remain helpful.