The Elephant in the Room

We all have that first memory of hearing about Covid-19 (or whatever they/we were calling it at the time). I was in Tennessee with Jason at the tail end of our Christmas vacation.   Our boys were at Disney having a blast with their Mimi and Papa and cousins and Auntie and Uncle.

Several times each day we would get adorable updates of their adventures together. Our phones would buzz and we would see Will on the monorail with Auntie or Jack having lunch with someone famous like Mickey Mouse or the whole family eating Dole Whips under the bright Florida sunshine. Our beloved family was clearly having a wonderful time together.   And I wasn’t having to stand in a single long line or to navigate any bustling – noisy crowds. This arrangement was this introvert’s dream come true!

Our extended family had just celebrated a wonderful Christmas.   Our sons were with people who love them as much as Jason and I do and spoil them way – way more than we do. I still had some vacation time left to enjoy.   It truly felt like all was right in the world!

I was gloriously and wonderfully relaxed.

The worst thing that happened (I thought) during those final days of my vacation was breaking a favorite knitting needle. And it was quickly replaced at the local yarn store.

I knit and read and watched the mountains. Jason read and walked the dogs and watched the mountains.   Very occasionally we would read the news. It was during those rare forays into reality that we happened upon a few news stories about a new cornavirus that had appeared in China. It seemed this new virus was causing some concern with virologists and public health doctors. But I wasn’t concerned – I was on vacation . . . my children were at Disney . . . my sons were literally in the Magic Kingdom!

That was well over 600 days ago now. And so much has changed in the world.

When Will asks about a return trip to the Magic Kingdom – our answer is always the same – “After Covid.” (I just hope our sweet boy isn’t 60 years old before it feels safe to return to Disney.)

When Will asks about so many things our answer is – “after Covid” or the classic “because of Covid” when he/we just plain can’t do something. (Will is only 8 and can’t be vaccinated just yet. We are choosing to be cautious and we try to follow the CDC’s guidance.)

“After Covid” and “because of Covid”. . . have become common refrains in our home and in our lives. We say them so frequently now – they have just become part of our family’s lingo – our vernacular.

“After Covid” means waiting for Will. And honestly (thankfully) – our youngest son – is a bright sunshine of a child. Will is fine with waiting. Will rolls with life in a way not many adults do. Not much gets under Will’s skin. If more of us were like Will – the world would be a nicer – kinder – far less angry place . . .

But for the adults in Will’s life “after Covid” and “because of Covid” come with sorrow and hurt and pain. Those words hang heavily in the air. Covid-19 has lingered so long. So very – very long. This wretched virus has taken such a toll on us. This virus has cruel teeth like a piranha.

The suffering. The illness. The pain. The grief. The death.

The anger in our society. The white-hot fury. The polarization.

My heart is sad.

I hurt because of the way the world is changing. I grieve for what we have lost and are losing. For what seems to be slipping away. I miss what was and will likely never be again.

My heart is sad.

I hurt because those I love grieve and hurt and ache and struggle.   Covid-19 has made almost everything so much harder. Loss – illness – and grief. Those have been made exponentially harder by Covid-19.

My heart is sad.

Some days the words “after Covid” and “because of Covid” feel a bit like a litany of lament to me. I hear and say and think them so often.

And perhaps that is what we need. Perhaps we need to lay claim to our grief and our sorrow and our hurt and our pain and even our anger by naming it. By saying the words. By whispering them or shouting or crying them out to the Lord.

The Bible is full of lament. The book of Job and the Psalms and the book of Lamentations. The Old Testament prophets lament. Jesus himself cried out to God as he died on the cross – “My God – my God – why have you forsaken me. . .” (Matthew 27:46). And this cry was from Psalm 22:1.

If Jesus – who is our Lord and Savior – can cry out boldly and publicly in lament – then certainly – this gives us permission to cry out in lament. . .   To share our grief with our Lord.   To lay our pain at God’s feet.

It is not un-Christian or un-faithful or somehow a sign of weakness to feel grief and pain and sorrow in the face of hard things. It is human. It shows you have a heart. Jesus himself lamented. Jesus cried when his beloved friend Lazarus died (John 11).

I would worry far more if we weren’t grieving. If we weren’t hurting. If we weren’t feeling loss. If we weren’t troubled by living through global pandemic.

Life is hard. Living through a pandemic is painful. Change and loss can be bewildering. Grief is exhausting. Pain is difficult to endure.

And so today I shall lament. Lament isn’t surrender or un-Christian or unfaithful. To lament is simply admitting that this hurts and is hard and I hate it!

Lament is about naming the pain.

I am no liturgist and I am not poet. I am a just me – a more than middle aged pastor – wife – and mom who knits far more than average – walks a lot and needs to lament today.

There are very few beds in our hospitals – because of Covid.

A dear friend spent hours and hours waiting in the ER to see a doctor – because of Covid.

4,625,974 precious human beings have died – because of Covid.

People continue to fight and argue and threaten one another and die needlessly – because of Covid.

Church attendance has dropped dramatically – because of Covid.

I miss my sisters and brothers in Christ – because of Covid.

Nurses and doctors are exhausted and feeling burned out – because of Covid.

We have to wear masks – because of Covid.

I told my littlest son no yet again – because of Covid.

The church council sighed big sighs during our meeting – because of Covid.

People are living and dying alone – because of Covid.

Our lives and our world and our church have changed forever – because of Covid.

This is hard. It is okay to lament. It is okay to hurt and grieve and cry out.  Are you feeling the need to lament too?  What would you add to the list?  What does your heart cry out for?

You are in my heart – thoughts and prayers.

In Christ and with Love –

Pastor Kerri

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