Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. Psalm 46:5
One profound memory during this pandemic was in Holy Week. A week that reveals human nature at its worst and God’s love at God’s fullest. It was there I was struck with the emotion of grief.
My role is to be pastor to both a senior living community, and the church to which it is physically connected. After spending time at the senior community, I entered the church sanctuary. It was a cloudy day keeping the large room dimmed. Oppressively so. I looked at the labyrinth embedded in the floor below. The labyrinth that was still open to weary travelers. Empty paths seeming appropriate to the pandemic season we were in.
As I stood in my empty church the starkness of that moment astounded me. Places that revealed life abundant seemed empty and afraid. Residents who were normally out in the halls, taking part in each other’s lives were now locked behind closed doors. The building where we celebrate a risen Christ felt filled with despair. “Where is God?” I asked. The loss overwhelmed me.
On Easter morning, I was moved reluctantly to leave Holy Communion at the doors of Residents who asked for it. I wondered if it was enough or even right to give them these sacred elements without me looking into their eyes and saying, “the body of Christ given for you.” “The blood of Christ shed for you.” Still, I left them, learning later how many were deeply moved by that gift.
I also watched the recorded Easter service surrounded by my family in our home. Message and music reached into me. I knew God was present. Locked doors, empty sanctuaries and life-threatening viruses did not stop the promises of a risen God. The Holy Spirit’s presence breathed into me and lifted me as it did others.
Grief moments still hit me. We are not done with this virus. New losses show up daily.
We are told naming our feelings and what we are grieving helps in the healing.
To me, naming them only seems to point a finger at myself and others. Anger and sadness twist together and I lose sense of what is at the core of the mess.
I want to get it right. Not be right. I want others to be nicer. For everyone to want to wear a mask. I want everyone to have healthcare and help when they need it. To not be afraid. I want everyone to want that, too. These losses seem insurmountable.
I remember Holy Week. And, I remember Easter Sunday when the message of the resurrection blew in and was made known. It seems so long ago. Yet, the resurrection is now. New life given every day. Possibility and hope in our midst. In the darkest of weeks came the reminder that God, through Jesus Christ is light that cannot be diminished or lost.
Trees are full, the birds’ songs fill the air, crops grow in the fields, thunderstorms come and go, dogs bark as children ride up and down the street and our neighbors greet us with a wave. God is in this with me and with you. Everywhere and every day. The Resurrection meets us in our grief, enlivens us and moves us out to be the light in an often-dark world.
Thanks be to God!