What We Know, Part II

Read Part I of this reflection here.

Eight weeks later, and I’m still thinking about this: the balance between what we know and what we don’t about the situation we find ourselves in: this pandemic.

In those weeks, it seems like so much has changed – and also not nearly enough.

It feels like ages ago, years, since I sat down at Walker Brothers with Pastor Pete and Pastor Joel to discuss whether we should start cancelling in-person programs at WCC while COVID-19 spread across our areas. Since I went to my gym and swam in the pool there. Since I booked a plane ticket and worried not about whether I’d be allowed to fly, but about who would watch my dog when I went away.

At the same time, though, it feels like all of these weeks of anxiety, uncertainty, pain and fear blend together into one big blur.

The things that we know about the virus, and its spread, have changed a lot. We know much more now, about risk factors and complications and protective measures. We know more about how long it will likely take to get back to anything resembling normal life (as in, we know that it won’t be anytime soon).

I know I should wear a mask whenever I’m unable to keep six feet distance from people outside of my family, and I know that I have to whenever I go inside a grocery store or other place of business.

But here’s what is really the most important thing that I know; that we all know, by now:

We know that this pandemic has affected everyone. Even if we don’t know how, we can be sure that all of our lives have been touched in some way.

Specifically, we know that everyone has lost something: in the best case scenario, that may be the loss of normalcy, the loss of routine, the loss of community and connection.

In the worst case, that loss could be someone, a family member or close friend. It could be the loss of a job, or savings; loss of health, loss of hope.

And in-between those extremes, there are so many other losses: birthdays celebrated alone; graduations moved online; weddings postponed or performed without any guests or cake or dancing.

We have all lost something.

The temptation, of course, is to rank those losses from least to most severe. To diminish the ones that are more about loss of comfort and continuity, and emphasize the other losses: of life, of livelihood. But the truth is, that kind of thinking doesn’t help. It creates a sense of shame if we’re struggling with so-called smaller losses; a sense that we shouldn’t be hurting so much if all we’ve lost is the ability to grocery shop with a sense of security.

I know the urge, because I feel it too. I recognize that I am in a comparatively cushy situation, holed up at home with my sister and my dog, feeling so far healthy and having the financial means to buy groceries for two weeks at a time. Why should I get to complain that it will probably be several more months before I can see my parents again – when one of my close friends is an ICU nurse?

But here’s the thing I have noticed about our God, as I continue to sit these days with the scriptures: God doesn’t put much stock by comparison and shame. God is about compassion and healing, mercy and love.

When those who were crippled or bleeding or possessed by demons came to Jesus, he didn’t sort through to find the worst cases first and then come back to the others: he just healed.

I think he wants to do the same for us now.

I think that he is already grieving our losses with us, no matter how small or how large, and that he yearns to be invited in to our hearts, to weep with us and eventually to dry our tears.

I hope, dear friends, that you will let him. As often as you need to, and as much as you want to, in these trying times.

Because here is what we know: the steadfast love of our God never changes. Not now, and not ever.

Amen.

– Pastor Jen

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