On My Heart
Updated: Apr 18, 2020
This time has been harder than I ever could have imagined. I think back to New Year’s Day, and it seems like five years ago; Ash Wednesday seems like at least a year ago, and now I sometimes look at my phone just to make sure what day it is.
When I hear the phrase, “we’re all in this together,” I think, yes, we are if you mean that we are all experiencing a global pandemic - something we have never experienced before; what Brené Brown calls a Terrible First Time. That phrase does not quite resonate in my mind for two reasons.
First, other Terrible First Times appear within this global Terrible First Time. Now, they may not be as weighty globally as the pandemic, but for each of us, they are still Terrible First Times.
For me, it is the death of my mother. Granted, she was ninety-even, and she had been failing for a time; the truth is that we are never ready to lose someone we love. For others, it may be the loss of a job, an unexpected medical diagnosis, or having to become not only a work at home parent but also a teacher for the children who are at home, or you fill in your own Terrible First Time.
The frustration/anger/sadness/loneliness/ come because nothing is the same within the Terrible First Time global pandemic. For those of us who have lost loved ones, there are no family or friends, no hugs, no memorial service. If your job is on hold even temporarily, the promised support is slow in arriving, and lines are long both in-person and on phone calls. And God loves the parents and teachers who find themselves without classrooms and books while still trying to educate and make children feel safe.
Second, while we are working toward a goal for the greater good of all by sheltering in place, we are not together; at least not together in all the ways we love and cherish.
How do we get our minds around all of this? I wish I had an easy answer. I will tell you it has been tough for me. And then, amid the challenges, the grief, the loneliness, Easter happened just like it happened on that first Easter morning.
In the Gospel of Matthew, on that first Easter morning, Jesus tells the women, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there.”
Galilee was home, the place where it all started as Jesus called the first disciples along the shore of the lake. Jesus said, “Go home, and I will meet you there.”
I hold to that for each of us at this time. Jesus will meet us where we are, sheltering in place at home wherever that may be.
And I read these words from the ancient wisdom of the Psalms. Psalm 16:11 tells us that: God teaches us the way of life. In God’s presence is total celebration. Beautiful things are always in God’s right hand.
And so, I look for the things that make my heart glad – the redbud trees, the bird’s nest in the wreath on my front door that now contains four baby robins, the sun on my face, the company of my dog, and yes, even Zoom meetings.
Has it been easy? No. Will it get easier? I can’t answer that right now. What I can remember is that today I can choose to remember that Terrible First Times happen, and it is OK to feel bewildered, afraid, angry, lonely, and a thousand other things.
I can also choose to remember who I am and whose I am – a beloved child of God with whom God shares the bewilderment, loneliness, and grief as well as the joy of this beautiful spring. And I am a friend and a follower of Jesus who meets me no matter where I am.