Coffee, prayer, and a fire – it’s a good morning, y’all.
Can we talk about the Coronavirus, please? Nothing political, I promise. This is personal.
Please don’t let statistics dehumanize the victims of this virus. In a family of four a .0004% national death rate becomes 25%, someone’s mother, father, child, or sibling. Every ‘case’ is a person, a family member, a friend, a coworker. Every death is 100% of the life of that person. We all need to take this pandemic personally because the virus sickens and kills persons not statistics.
We all have pandemic fatigue. I definitely do. I want to be able to come and go without worry. I want to have people over to our house for what my grandmother called “a good visit” with lots of yummy food. I want to enjoy eating out again and travel and take mission groups to Guatemala and go to lunch with my friends and have game night.
AND I want to protect these same people I am sad about not being face to face with.
AND I want to protect this community so that this virus gets under control.
The vaccine is coming but not yet.
And we must work together to remain in this liminal space in which we find ourselves.
Richard Rohr defines Liminal Space this way:
“It is when you have left, or are about to leave, the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer.”Richard Rohr
I’ve let go of the idea that anything will be as it was, that we will go “back to normal.” At the very beginning of this, back when we were naive enough to think it was just going to be a few weeks or a month, I talked about using this time to examine what we call normal and ask ourselves if that is the life we really want and if not then take this opportunity of interruption to redirect our life, re-sculpt it, reshape it so it is what we want.
In the Gospel story as Luke tells it, Jesus tells some folks who are fired up to follow him that it won’t be the easy way. In The Message, Eugene Petersen translates Jesus’ response as “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” (Luke 9:62) (And if you want to read a really good book on the theology of “Seize the Day” I highly recommend Os Guinness’ Carpe Diem Redeemed.)
Jesus is not saying that their “normal” activities aren’t valid or aren’t important. He’s helping us understand that following him into God’s Kingdom in the here and now means that we live the kingdom in all that we do. These folks had said “first” let me do such-and-such and “then” I’ll follow you. Jesus asks us to follow him AS we do the things which are our regular things to do. Kingdom living isn’t an add-on or a hobby. It is to be the guiding principle of all that we do, of who we are.
What then shall we do?
Let’s continue to follow Jesus through this pandemic, doing those things which put the greater good of our community and country first: stay home as much as you can. When you go out to work or shop for necessities, wear a mask and practice physical distancing and use lots of hand sanitizer. Stop seeing these things as inconveniences (and don’t you dare talk ‘liberties’) and see them as Jesus would, through the eyes of compassion that keep us all safe and protected.
Continue to get creative with family and friend gatherings. Use the technology we have. Instead of saying “social” distancing, use “physical” distancing. Our words matter. Put a big screen on your dining table and host an online dinner. Bake your grandmother’s best recipes together with a Zoom cooking show! Have an online craft or puzzle night.
Together with God we can do this – and that’s a joyful message that even with the necessary physical distancing we are never alone! Thank be to God! We can endure. We can reshape the way we gather and support each other. We can look to Jesus and move forward, further up and further in to God’s Kingdom in the here and now.