Dear Loved Ones,
I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and came across a picture of a friend with her 8 year old son. It was a typical summer photo, mom in large straw hat, son in swim trunks, sun lightened hair glistening, wet from the lake he had just been in, big smiles on their faces. At first it made me smile, but after a while my mind kept returning to the image and a sadness set in.
The sadness was brought on by how much this child has changed since I last saw him back in March. He is in that stage where his face structure is changing, teeth falling out, cheeks loosing their baby look, body lengthening, and all this made me realize just how long social distancing has been happening. While my life has not changed drastically, it has been a long haul since I went to church, ate a restaurant, visited friends without thinking (and only two of my circle have even been on this list), went to a thrift store, visited someone in hospital, hugged or shaken hands… the list goes on. And it made me think of all the lives that have been lost or people who are still suffering from CoVid, many seriously ill for a couple of months. It made me remember all who have lost their jobs, or income from reduced jobs.
And the sadness made me realize that the days are already noticeably shortening, the sun setting earlier each evening, and our CoVid situation is not getting better. We are in this for the long haul, masks on faces, rolling shutdowns a possibility ahead, schools uncertain of what to do, and so many decisions that need to be made with courage to save the most people possible from contracting the virus. It also brought to mind the many conspiracy theories circling that just seem to diminish the severity of loss and grief and allow people to bypass their true feelings.
Along with all this, there is the unrest in several cities, peaceful protests being turned into zones where tear gas and unmarked ‘law enforcers’ stir up trouble and take citizens away without identifying themselves. There is talk of division and hate that comes from those who should be setting an example. There is the story of a congresswoman being called names by others in congress and death threats against those who are working to contain viruses. So much. So, so much.
So, it is unsurprising, I guess, that sadness came.
I sat with it for a while. I cried some tears. I got upset over some small thing and was irritated over nothing. And I tried to get quiet.
The more quiet I became, the louder the world seemed. “Look at this,” it cried. “Over here,” it shouted. So I stayed searching for the quiet. I pulled weeds and scraped old paint off the garage, I went for walks and immersed myself in a lake, I read a book and sat with directees.
Slowly, the quiet seeped in through the noise. The quiet worked its way through the tears. The quiet got under my skin like the dirt under my fingernails. And beneath it all, beneath the sadness and the noise and the tiredness and the uncertainty; beneath it all, there was peace. An assurance that agreed we are in this for a long while more, that acknowledged the grief and fear, that saw the changes and the things that have been lost. And in the quiet, these lines from a prayer that we say some nights came to me:
“Protect us through the silent hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world, may rest upon Your eternal changelessness.”
I turn again to God’s eternal changelessness….. this is a time of change and challenge and grief, but in it God is with us, God is walking with us with hope, God is a beacon of light to follow, God is not fleeting but in it for the long haul. God is the one on whom and in whom we can rest. It’s like the very center of a fast spinning roundabout (I don’t know if you had them in the US… they were a playground toy, a large metal circle divided into 4 or 5 sections by metal bars, held by a center post. Someone runs around on the outside turning it as fast as they can run while those on the roundabout hold on tight, screaming and laughing. They were banned soon after I was a child as they were super dangerous!). While the outside of the roundabout is spinning wildly, faster and faster, the center is barely moving. While the spinner, if they run fast enough and hold on tight, can lift their feet off the ground and feel like they are flying for a few seconds, the center post holds still and steady. The closer we can move to the center, the stiller we can be. The more changeless we can become and the further away from danger we are.
This sadness helped me move back from the edges, toward the center once more, toward God’s stillness, toward the knowledge of the changelessness of hope and Love. While the world seemingly spins out of control, our task, my task, is to stay close to the center, the Truth, the Love, the Peace. The sadness and fear and guilt and horror are all still there, but I can be with Peace, silent and ready to move and speak as the silence calls me.
It reminds me of this poem by Ana Lisa de Jong in her booklet “Poetry for a Pandemic.”
HOPE IS MADE
Hope is made for such a day as this.
It is not made for when all
is sweet and light.
Although the memory of the good
can be a fueler of the flame.
Because hope was made for when the darkness
is most apparent.
Hope was made for when the sky has changed
Hope was made for those who cannot wake
And for those who have lost their balance
Yes, hope is not made for the day of goodness.
It isn’t made for when our many blessings
cannot be counted,
gifts showered as blossoms
in the wind.
Hope is made for when the world has been shocked
to silence, except for the ‘O’ of disbelief,
and mouthing of a prayer.
Hope is made for the day that tries our understanding.
May we allow the feelings of sadness and grief and fear to arise so we can stay in hope!
With love and hope,
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.