by Chaplain Resident, Brigette Kemink
This is not easy.
This is not fun.
It is a struggle.
It is a challenge.
And let’s be real, we are all thrown. Some of us are angry. Some of us are fearful. Some of us are flippant. Some of us are too busy to stop. And some of us are in the middle, straddling a divide between over-reactive and under-reactive. Each day we learn something new, both positive and negative. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine what to filter out and what to let in. We learn that the world hasn’t stopped, even though it feels like we have. While some of us are working just to get through our day and encourage patience, injustice rears its ugly head, through racism, ignorance, and violence. In bright contrast to the death all around us, spring is coming to life. The silence of winter is being filled with birds chirping, flowers blooming, and the birth of new life. We are hearing stories of survival and the generosity of humankind. And yet, we are stuck in this odd place, of moving forward and stuck in place. Most of us are weighing our options minute-by-minute, living in a state of risk versus benefit and asking ourselves if what seemed a simple choice a few months ago is now a risky proposition?
We are in the midst of a balancing act.
One we didn’t know was coming.
One we didn’t plan for and one we don’t know when it will end.
But, we aren’t alone in this, are we? We are constantly reminded in television ads, through social media, emails, and text messages, that we aren’t alone and that we will get through this together, and while I appreciate that, those messages aren’t always the ones that make me feel better. I feel better when talking with family, friends, and colleagues. We lament together. We laugh together. We remind each other that this is new and different, and while we have been challenged before, we haven’t been challenged in this way, for this long, and this far removed from one another. The only thing I can liken this to is 9/11, but even that was different. Then we could gather with friends and family and mourn what was lost. We could go to our church, our synagogue, our mosque, our temple, and grieve with our spiritual families and hear a message of hope. We could gather in the same room, we could even hold hands and hug one another.
And yet, it is hope that I am still holding on to.
Because I have hope that God will bring us back together.
I’ve learned a few things about myself in the last few weeks, and I imagine that you have too. First, I’ve learned that I can live with much less than I thought I could. Going to the store isn’t as convenient as it once was and now I live with less.
Second, I’ve learned that I can cook good meals, even if I have to accommodate picky eaters. Gathering my family around the table because we have time, time to cook and time to eat, is a joy I can’t remember the last time I’ve had.
Third, I’ve learned that in a crisis, I go through several responses. It’s in my nature to want to help, but it’s also in my nature to protect. I want to help who I can and I want to protect my family.
Fourth, I pray – a lot! More than before and what feels like all the time. I believe that nearly every thought or word shared or conversation I have is a prayer to God. How can it not be?
Fifth, I panic. Of course there are moments of panic! I panic for myself and for my family. I panic for my aging parents. I panic for my husband, friends, and family working in hospitals or other healthcare places.
And then finally, after all of that, I calm down by really digging into my spiritual life. I put back in place my routines, like yoga in the morning, working to eating healthy, and starting my day with devotion. These are the things that help me feel normal. And while a zoom meeting with my colleagues isn’t what I’m used to…just seeing their faces, hearing their voices, and “getting together” helps me to feel like I’m not alone. When they remind me that we are all worried, we are all scared on some level, and we are all doing our best, it helps.
This week, when I open my devotional, I’m greeted with this invitation from Psalm 126, verses 2-3, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy…The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” It’s not exactly where I am every day, but it is exactly where I want to be. So may we find laughter, song, and joy this week and in all the weeks to come. May we find strength in one another and in our source of inspiration. Dig into your spiritual life and remind yourself to practice what brings you calm.