Several years ago, in preparation for a staff retreat at the church where I was serving, I took an assessment called Strengths Finder.
It told me what I probably could have guessed: that two of my top strengths are “input” and “learning.”
I love to read, and I love to learn. My mom teases me that my grandmother used to say “You can never have enough books,” but that I might be an exception. For years, my bedroom and living room have been littered with stacks of books, overflowing from the shelves and onto the floor.
When I discover some new hobby or project, like sourdough baking, or capsule closets, I head first to the library or the internet, and read all I can about it before doing anything.
I love to learn.
As you can imagine, that is both a blessing and a curse in times like these.
There is no lack of information out there, which I can and have spent hours upon hours devouring. Every few minutes, it seems, there is another headline, article, press briefing, or tweet about coronavirus and COVID-19. Some of the information is reliable, some of it is hype, and a lot of it, at this point, seems to be educated guesses. We don’t know the extent of the virus’ spread in our community at this point. We don’t know how long it will last. We don’t know when schools will reopen, or restaurants, or when the markets will start to return to normal. We don’t know what that normal will look like, though we can guess it will be different, after having lived through a pandemic, something that not even my grandparents ever experienced in their lifetime.
For many of us, the not-knowing is one of the hardest parts of all. I know it is for me.
It’s enough to make me feel really off-balance, like the world under my feet isn’t so steady anymore.
But there are things, I have to remind myself, that I do know. Things that, as a person of faith, I can still hold onto even as the world around me is in crisis.
Here are a few of them:
That the people I love and care about are still here, right now. And even if I can’t be with them physically, or I am choosing not to for their health, I can still be with them and for them in other ways: still pray for them, still talk to them, still write to them and think of them and maybe even Skype while I drink coffee with them.
That we are, none of us, alone in this. It’s tremendously easy to feel that we are, locked in our apartments, self-quarantining in our homes, but the reality is that we are so much more connected, and reliant on each other, than we even realize. My well-being is bound up with yours, and yours with mine. Coronavirus shows us that in a harsh way, but it also makes clear to us what we so often forget: we need each other. Not just for grocery runs and sharing our toilet paper when a neighbor’s supply runs low, but for fellowship and laughter and presence and strength.
That even though the church cannot, and probably should not, gather physically in a time like this, it is not a time to tune out of our community of faith. No, it’s a time to lean in: to call more often, to pray, to find ways to study scripture and learn together and serve others ever more creatively. I’ll be reaching out soon with ways that we can do that as WCC, but I hope you think about how to do this in your neighborhoods, your families, and your other communities of work and play.
It’s a scary time, friends, and a lot feels uncertain and unknowable.
But instead of letting it pull us deeper into anxiety, into fear, into alienation, let’s hear the invitation to be drawn closer to God and to each other. To remember that God goes with us, behind us, and before us every step of the way, and that even though our future is uncertain, God is already there.
Love and peace to all of you,
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