By: Conference Minister Diane Weible
A year ago, we were hearing more and more about COVID-19 in the news. I remember thinking that although it sounded serious, it would not disrupt my life any more than annual flu season does. Wow, was I ever wrong.
Eleven months later, I am still, for the most part, homebound. I miss being with friends and loved ones. While I will not go so far as a colleague who said she even misses sitting in the middle seat on an airplane, I will say that I miss being able to travel and visit my parents and my children, friends and places I’ve never been.
We are exhausted. We are filled with grief. We are angry. We just want it to end.
The Pandemic has uncovered some things we wish we could ignore but have been forced to confront—both big and small.
One of those is the reliability of the United States Post Office. A year ago, I never thought twice that putting a letter in the mail may or may not guarantee that it would be delivered. As many of you know, in the Conference Office, we have had envelopes that either never arrived or arrived two months later. We have had letters we have mailed that we are still waiting to hear that they have been delivered. Our Conference Administrator one day walked into the Post Office and said a prayer over one of the letters before handing it to the clerk, hoping that would make a difference (It did!)
The Post Office issue along has resulted in frustration and incredible creativity in trying to figure out new ways of mailing letters that will get them in route and not stuck in some corner of some post office some where.
The Pandemic has uncovered major cracks in our society. Racial justice and inequity have become glaringly obvious—in the unfair treatment of essential workers and COVID treatment as well as the death of George Floyd, to name a few. This is important because the cracks, once seen, cannot be unseen. As people of faith, we must respond to the call to acknowledge these issues rather than pretend they are not there. (There is a reason our Annual Gathering Theme last year and this year is “The Elephant in the Room”—we want to work together to be able to see those things that for so long have been unseen.) We are being invited to examine our lives, our beliefs and how we show up.
I write today to ask us all to spend time reflecting on what we are feeling and what we have experienced in this time. How are we seeing things differently? Where are the places God is leading us? We have a lot to learn about ourselves and about one another and I look forward to the day when we can find a way to share these stories, revelations and understandings that this time has invited us to discover.
Most of all, in your exhaustion and in your fear, dig deep to find all the grace you have stored up; all the grace that God gives up each and every day; all the grace that you pray for in your times of worship. And may that grace lead you to love. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. Love the stranger you have not yet met who needs to know they are loved.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)