Updated: Sep 20, 2020
Yesterday, as I was driving down the highway, I almost got into an accident. The car in front of me slowed almost to a stop unexpectedly and I hit the brakes a little bit later than I should have, taken by surprise by what I suddenly realized was traffic. Traffic! Remember when every weekday morning and evening the highways came to a stand still?
I wonder if it’s okay to say that some good things, maybe even some wonderful things, have resulted from this pandemic, knowing that many of us have suffered in multiple ways because of it, that it is not over, and that it may get worse. Because the truth is I can see some good things.
Not having to sit in traffic is one of many that I can think of. My kids are much closer to their dad than they were before. I give myself and my family more compassion around everything because I can’t even vaguely pretend anymore that it is possible to accomplish everything or to be a perfect parent. I have spent a lot less time running errands and driving around and a lot more time reading and writing and praying.
This pandemic time has also been transforming for our church. When we could have been discouraged or terrified by change, instead we dug in to this new reality and recommitted to each other. And the Spirit has been working through us and in us and among us as a result.
This week in our LGBTQ group, Hilary mentioned how she felt a sense of loss that we hadn’t been so close before, when we could have actually physically been present with one another. We all spent some time dreaming of the day we would be together again and thinking about how different it would feel, how when we stopped meeting in person we hardly knew one another but now we would greet one another with hugs and tears.
Similarly, a couple of weeks ago in a different group, we were talking about how we can imagine trauma as a tornado that destroys our house and overwhelms us so that we physically and emotionally cannot recover on our own. We have to have a loving community in order to recover. And Anna shared how she had never thought about the fact that the person next to you may look fine but inside their house might be destroyed and they might need someone to lift them up. In that group we are allowing ourselves to show each other our damaged parts and realizing that everyone is carrying around hurt and that we can be that loving community for one another.
And in our morning prayer group we have each gone through cycles of being angry and lost and desperate and also of helping one another up. Sometimes each of us has been the person falling down. Sometimes each of us has been the person helping someone else up. As the weeks pass, it has become clear that actually we are all struggling all the time and we are all capable of reaching out and helping each other along all the time.
What was it that kept us separate before? How was it possible that there are people I’ve gone to church with for years that I didn’t know at all? People who were so much like me and so different than me and who have so many interesting stories and gifts. People who need support and who can be my support and can be both at the same time. What was it that kept us from saying out loud that we love each other the way we often do at the end of our prayer group?
What is it that has allowed us to break down these barriers and drawn us all closer now? Is it something about the intense togetherness of zoom where everyone is staring directly at each other at all times? Does it have to do with the strange intimacy of seeing each other at home while remaining in our own safe space? Is it this shared sense of fragility that we all feel?
I pray that as our lives begin more and more to resemble the way they were, that we can keep holding on to this new special closeness and that we can continue to share our vulnerability instead of reconstructing the walls that kept us apart before. I pray that whenever we do come back together we can continue to listen well and speak from our hearts and continue to hold one another as we have been while separated, as a family in faith.
by Dianne Garcia, Pastor of Family Ministry
Questions for us to hold this week:
What are the things that you are grateful for during this time of continuing disruption and heightened anxiety?
As our lives begin to look increasingly similar to the way they used to be, in what ways can we purposefully take this new vulnerability and sense of community with us ?