Sometime I will have to gather my thoughts about this breathtaking revolution that has been forced on us in the larger context. Mine is one local congregation of people with whom I’ve been for twenty-seven years come July. Things always change, but this one has been especially momentous. Others have had enough to say, but I’ve observed a few little beams of light in the dark. Consider these:
- Churches forced to innovate everything we do. How appropriate that Holy Week would be the big test. And the people are still there. Turns out that little rhyme we did with our hands as a kid had something to it. “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple,” (fingers interlocked and hands folded, index fingers joined in a spire. “Open the door,” and you’d unfold your hands and wiggle your fingers, “and there’s the people.”
- I see a lot of cooperation, humility and mercy down here on the ground level.
- Leaders rise up in the worst of times. Anybody can lead in good times. Only in the crises can you tell the difference.
- Imagine that Christianity in a short while has had to watch the burning down of the Cathedral of Notre Dame and Vatican Square empty except for a blind man singing “Amazing Grace” on Easter Sunday after the Pope stood there alone. But people sang “Amazing Grace” all over the world Sunday.
- People sewing, volunteering, sacrificing and praying harder than usual. Constant cheering and appreciation for our medical workers. I often pray when I go to a hospital (I miss that right now), “Lord, we know that you’ve given us wisdom and medical knowledge so that these doctors, nurses and workers do every day and routinely what Jesus did miraculously.” Healthcare is a daily miracle. We just appreciate it more right now.
- Being away from people we love makes us yearn for their presence and anticipate the first time we can see one another. You can feel it all the way into prayer.
- The earth has been given a sabbath of human activity. Sea turtles in India are flourishing during our quarantine, and people can see the Himalayas from a hundred miles away for the first time in years. We ought to remember what we’ve learned.
Morning coffee comes to our cells,
We are not in jail, we are monks of the pandemic
“Go to your cell. It will teach you everything.”
This time can teach us, too.
We can go to Good Friday here.
By three o’clock, the world shaken,
The darkness a shadow across our souls,
the failures and oblivion of us all fully revealed and judged.
By three o’clock, the thieves will have died, too.
The crowd dispersed, the disciples disheartened,
His mother and the Beloved Disciple,
Having to keep their distance, wait to receive His body.
All will descend into silence.
Even Easter will begin with a graveyard disruption
A woman alone
And disciples hiding behind locked doors.
We can do this.