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Be Kind

As I spoke to my mother in the US, she asked whether we have protesters swamping the halls of government to demand a release from our lockdown.  I said, “Of course, not.”  I know people are fed up.  I know the papers say some people are going back to work, but there are no crowds swarming around Parliament Square or the Senedd demanding we are let back to work—though each day we hear more people are driving or on public transport.

Instead of protests. we do seem to have people reporting others who appear to flaunting the rules:  the nurse whose tyres were slashed because her neighbours didn’t realise she was a nurse; the Job Centre worker who had the police show up at her door; the angry walker who confronts a group of young men playing football in the park; the shoppers who accuse the mother of a large family of hoarding.

When I encounter someone who walks or cycles too close to me, I am frustrated and frightened, but I haven’t yet shouted at them.  I wonder about this.  Should I confront the people walking the wrong way around Roath Park?  I haven’t, but I have heard someone else do it.  (And I was glad they did.)
Still I wonder about policing other people.  Is it my job, your job, to challenge the person who seems to be breaking the ruleS?  Is it my job to judge them or inflict a “punishment”?  

We like to speak about the wonderful side of community this lockdown has created between us.  When a six year old can’t have a birthday party, our hearts warm seeing footage of a whole street coming out to clap and sing for her.  When Captain Tom walks his laps, we are joyful and we give to the NHS.  (For which I am grateful, but I am also angry because our government should properly funded our health service.) There are lots of examples of community spirt and caring, which we hope will continue following the pandemic.

But what is our responsibility toward our neighbour?  To judge, to punish or to love?  Just before this started a television presenter committed suicide, partly, I guess because she felt judged.  In response to her death the hashtag, “Be Kind” became popular.  Where is our kindness in Covid 19 judgement?

I have long told my children to simply be kind to other people. I’m sure they grew tired of hearing me say it in their teenage years.  It was my attempt to interpret Jesus’ command, “Love your neighbour as yourself” in a pre-teen and teen Florida life. In the face of bullying and rudeness and cliques it seemed to me kindness would go a long way—hard as it was to be kind some days. I’m sure my girls thought I was naive then, but I still think being kind is essential.  Though I might want to shout at other people for flaunting the rules, I don’t know their circumstances.  I have no idea of their needs and understanding.  Maybe they can’t read the signs in English and Welsh around the lake.  So I only complain in my head.  In my practice, I try to be kind in my encounters and, more often than last week, in my head

A Confession and A Sermon

I have a confession to make.  Please don’t hold it against me.  My confession:  I have been having trouble listening  and watching church services during the lockdown.  I generally love listening to a good preacher.  And I am aware we have access to almost anyone I would deem a good preacher right now.  That should be a good thing for a church geek like me, but I have trouble listening and watching now.

In response to my confession, I might offer an explanation.  That is I have trouble concentrating.  When we are grieving, we do struggle with being focused.  So I could use that as my excuse, but I don’t really think a lack of concentration is the reason.  This morning I listened to a service, a good service, and I have been sad all morning.  

I am sad because it reminds me of what I am missing.  I identify myself as a “preacher.”  As a preacher, I am missing the interaction in the community of faith.  I am missing developing friendships.  (My advice:  don’t move just before a pandemic.). I am missing the surprises of being with other people who have stories and ideas to share.

When leading worship, I always have mixed feelings. My feelings range generally between fear and dread.   I feel the responsibility of leading worship and worry that I might not have the message together enough.  Sometimes I am sure I have not, but there are times when I feel a warmth and connection during a service.  On those times,  I believe the Holy Spirit is at work.  I also enjoy the  conversations after the service.  In the worship and the conversations there is a connection which is energising, despite my fear and dread as 10.30 a.m. approaches.  I love the connections made around the act of worship by the Holy Spirit.

Now I firmly believe God is present in many ways in life, in people who aren’t church people, in small kindnesses shared and in grand gestures.  I am sure God is at work even now, in people we pass on the streets, in our neighbours, in shops, in nursing homes, hospitals, surgeries, in warehouses and schools and delivery and lorry drivers.  The list is really endless despite the lockdown.  God is still present.  I know that is true, but I still feel sad.  I miss the human connection, the unexpected touch of the Spirit, the smile we share, even the frustration when things go wrong.  Today I can see God at work, but I’m still sad.

I am grateful for life, but life has taken a new shape.  I accept it has to be this way.  I am even grateful it can be this way, but I can’t see the way out of it.  I am being changed by this new way of life.  There is a future, but it will be different than we imagines. I am sad for what the loss of what was and not yet able to imagine what might be. 

So today I am simply sad.  Today will have its gifts despite my sadness.  Tomorrow I will leave to the One who holds our future in His/Her hands.  And one day, in that future, I will enjoy a good sermon again!

A Morning Walk

This morning a battle raged in my head before I was even downstairs.  I had a package I needed to post.  The battle was, “Do I make the 10 to 15 minute all to the post office or do I nip up there in the car?”  Now the car does need to be used now and then to keep the battery charged, but do I really need to drive?  I have time.  I have energy.  I can walk.  On the other hand, I have to insure I am back in time for the Zoom coffee morning.  

I used to live less than a five minute walk from three local shops that each carried any odds and ends I needed.  I happily walked to them regularly for a pint of milk, a newspaper, or, more importantly, a Diet Coke.  I was spoiled.  “It’s so much easier to drive,” my mind says today, but my hearts say, “Walk.”  This time walking won out.

On my “trip,” which included a brief stop at the local shop before going into the post office, I noticed a few of things.

Firstly, people were friendly.  They said “hello,” smiled, and moved out of my way to keep to rules of social distancing.  On my regular afternoon walk, no matter which way I go, people rarely speak.  They often fail to move out of my way.  This morning I  passed one person coming and going to the post office, and she remarked on that.  Why were people friendlier?  I have no idea.  Maybe it is just the day and everyone will be friendly later.  Maybe we are just too tired later.  Maybe I was friendlier.  Or maybe there is no clear reason, they just were.

Secondly, in the shop there was a girl with her mother, happily chatting away about what they were going to eat when the returned home.  She was about four.  I imagined her chatting all the way to the shop and all the way home.  The joy of life brimming in her.  She reminded me that most children are able to adapt to whatever life throws at them.  They live in the moment, with less worry about tomorrow or next week than adults do.  They do have sadness, but they also can put it aside to focus on a task before them or the excitement of this moment.  Children do grieve, but generally they also get on with life.  (I know I am not talking about children who are abused or ill etc.)

For this lass, life, even in lockdown, held joy and things to which she could look forward.  Hmm, what does that say to me/us?

Finally, as I waited in the shop queue, I noted again the screens in front of the shop assistant. I don’t like barriers.  I believe that Jesus came to break down barriers—between human beings and between us and God, to bring wholeness to our relationships.  

So what did those barriers remind me of?  I thought a moment, “Ah, the banks.”  There is a similar style barrier which protects the “gold” we store in banks and building societies.  Those barriers now protect something more precious than “gold”—life.  It’s not gold that is precious now; it is life—the shop assistant’s, mine, ours.  

In essence, all three aspects of my walk to the post office were about the goodness of life—in the kindness and brief words of those who like me were out and about this morning, in the joy of the little girl, and the “barrier” reminding me of the value of life for all people.  My choice of a walk was a good thing in more ways than one.  Despite lockdown, life, today, is good.

Noticing and Listening

There is a bush that blocks one of my front windows.  I love light coming into rooms so I wanted the bush removed.   However, sitting in the living room I began to notice a robing flitting back and forth in the bush.  I loved seeing the robin sitting there, remembering many people finding comfort in the appearance of robins at Willen Hospice during the death of their loved ones. As I sat in the chair in the morning, I looked forward to the brief appearances of the robin.

But the bush was still overgrown and blocked light.  So I decided, rather than cutting it all the way down, I would cut it back.   I did.  To my delight the robin and another small bird have continued to bless us with their presence in the bush—now half its size.

“Every day I listen to the dirt. What are you telling me? What do you need? What do you want to give?”  Dirk Gianinni, fourth-generation farmer in Salinas, California

During this pandemic, I am listening in new ways.  I continue noticing the robin in the bush in the front garden, but I am also noticing the birds in the back garden. (I discovered that female blackbirds are brown.) I am noticing the birds nesting around Roath Lake.  I am noticing flowers.  I am noticing signs in windows.  I am noticing people who pass my house every morning.  I am noticing and listening.  These are spiritual practices.

I am conscious that for some people this time is very busy and overwhelming.  But for me there are less meetings to rush to and from.  There are less distractions so I am trying to listen and notice the world around me—the creation and the Creator.  

What am I being told by what is around me?  The lockdown had highlighted that I basically have everything I need.  I am listening to this lesson.  If I return to Dirk Gianinni’s words,  I guess I only need to ask what do I need for today and what can I learn today.  I do not need to worry too much about tomorrow.  As Jesus said, “So don’t worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Tomorrow will have its own worries.”  Matthew 6.34 Instead, I will pray with Jesus, “Give us this day our daily bread.” 

And I ask what can I give?  This question has to be asked in a remote context.  How can I give to someone who I cannot visit today?  Whose life can I touch, without touching them?  The answer is different depending on the day, but asking the questions reminds me that there are many ways to give.  Which one will I use today?

So in the days ahead I will continue noticing and listening for the lessons of each day, trusting God for what I need for tomorrow.  I will continue to offer myself in service, despite the limitations of lockdown, and hope that God will use my efforts to encourage someone else today.

Good Days and Bad Days

Despite a global lockdown, life goes on.  We make connections, nurture connections, mow the grass, exercise, clean the house, listen to the birds, work.  We have good days, and we have bad days.  

Yesterday was not a good day for me.  I had trouble concentrating.  I knew what I needed to do, but I struggled to think them through or focus on them.  I went out twice, once for essential supplies and once of exercise.  That seems crazy to even write that.  I feel guilty I went out twice.  Until three weeks ago I could do in and out as many times as I wanted in a day.  But now I go out for an hour a day.  Otherwise I am in my home environment.  But I went out twice yesterday, in the hope of resetting my brain.  How strange is the world we live in?  I am a person who likes being at home, but yesterday I just wanted to be out of the house.

People who are grieving struggle to concentrate, to settle to tasks.  I think I am grieving, grieving the losses of daily life, aware of the losses of so many other people, conscious of the trauma of hospital and care home staff dealing with a higher number of deaths than normal.  I think I am also grieving a future that I trusted to be safe.  I think I will be wary of being too close to other people for some months yet.  Going to a play or a movie are not likely to be on my agenda for awhile.  I am dreading future decisions about travel.  And when I actually see my friends and family again, will I want to hug them?   I loved watching at television programme called “The Walking Dead.”  It is about a pandemic and the resulting zombie apocalypse.   Is this our life now?  

I feel a bit lost.  In some ways I am content with a slower pace of life—but I am aware I am in a very privileged position.  I still have a home and a job.  I have people who contact me and who I can contact.  I have what I need for today and tomorrow.  I am grateful, but I am also still grieving.  

We can deny.  We can blame others.  We can worry.  The reality is that life has changed.  Grief doesn’t go away if we ignore it.  I have to grieve my losses, real and perceived, before I can find a way to live with this new reality. 

So yesterday was a grieving day.  I hope today is a more even keel day.  I hold onto these words: “When I walk through the valley of deepest darkness, Thou art with me.”  The psalmist doesn’t say we can avoid challenges and pain.  Instead the psalmist reminds us that we never walk alone.  God is with us—on our bad days and our good days.  We never walk alone.

What Follows Easter

Holy Saturday—a day of waiting.  I decided to tackle warping my loom for the first time.  I watched a couple of videos.  I read a book.  I found all my tools.  I set about warping the loom.  As I got into the process I became quite excited.  I was doing it.  It was working—or so it appeared.  Until I realised I had a huge problem.  I had done it wrong.  The only way I could see to undo the problem was to create a bigger problem—a tangle of metres of wool.

Easter Monday—a day of patience.  I sat on the floor for hours untangling each thread.  Careful to find the end without breaking the strand.  Careful to put each strand in order.  Covered in fine fibres I finished disentangling each individual strand, ready to finish the warping of the loom.

Easter Monday— a day of careful and tortuous work.  It was painful, to see my fear and my mistake  on the floor in a tangled mess.  I am sure that life is a bit like this at the moment.  For some it requires patience and great care, putting strands of the old and new together to form a pattern, an order.  For some it is still full of fear; we wait for a future without the threat of COVID-19 dominating and limiting our lives.  We pull at one strand, carefully trying to release it from the tangled mess to find it is connected in another way.  We start again.  Patience and care is required.

Easter Monday—a day we reflect with joy on the celebrations of Easter morning—our church and our family celebrations.  But Easter Monday was not like that in Jerusalem 2000 years ago.  It was more like my tangled mess.  The disciples and other followers of Jesus knew Jesus was alive, but they did not understand what that meant.  They were not sure what to do.  They were paralysed by fear.  They hid in an upstairs room.  

Each of the gospels records their responses in different ways but there was fear, a need for the gift of peace from the Holy Spirit.  While we settle into further weeks of lockdown, we find ourselves in what some people call “Holy Week 2”—a time of figuring out what to do next.  A time to untangle the mess of life and figure out how to be Jesus’ people without him.  

Holy Week 2 Wednesday—Life carries on.  There is joy, and there is deep sorrow.   There are simple moments of great pleasure —nothing grand right now.  And I am still warping my loom.  I have made some progress, but I have also made more knots.  I keep going.  Like the disciples we keep at it—figuring out how to be today.  We may worry about tomorrow, but I find I can’t look too far ahead.  Too much is unknown.  We don’t know where the knots will come.  We have to take one small bit at a time.

Fortunately, the greatest message of Holy Week 2 is that Jesus is still with us.  Now we, like the disciples, have to figure out how to be his followers in new ways.  And when the lockdown is over, the needs of our world will be great.  Then we will have to continue figuring out  how to be Jesus’ people.  The world will need us to help untangle the mess even more than it did before.  We will do some work, untangle some problems, find some more.  Patiently, carefully, we will find our way. I imagine our future will hold loving and challenging work.  A lot like my weaving and Holy Week 2 all those years ago.

 

A Holy Saturday

This week is so different than any Holy Week we have every known.   While people are troubled about not being together or in church,  I feel a bit closer to the disciples than in years past.  I keep thinking about them begin perplexed, listening to Jesus, thinking, “What is he on about?  Why is he telling us this now?”  I wonder if some of them thought, “Jesus, let’s just get back to the work of healing people.”  I think of them after his death, hiding in an upper room, running away from Jerusalem, not knowing really what to do with themselves, filled with the pain of loss.

So often we skip through Holy Week, moving joyfully to Easter.  We mark Good Friday, but we do not get too close to the pain because soon is will be Sunday—resurrection with new life and hope.  We know the next part of the story so we don’t have to linger on Good Friday.  “Thank goodness that day is over,”  we think.  As good church people, we use Saturday to get ready for Sunday.

Yet today I wonder if Holy Saturday is close to our experience this year.  Holy Saturday for the disciples was a day of the beginning of something new—life without Jesus.  Who were they without him?  Grief filled their homes and hearts.  How do they live now?  Some of them, like the two on the road to Emmaus, wondered (ran?) off.  The community was changed—how do they connect to all those who lived with Jesus, learned from him, where changed by his life?

Holy Saturday for us is filled with unknown.  Headlines—“USA out of lock down by 1 May” and “Social Isolation may last for 18 months.”  We are in the in-between time.  Something major has happened, and we do not yet know when or how it will end.  We do not know how we will be changed.  We simply do not know.  We have to live now, with our fears, our loss, our hopes, our connections—such as they are. We know that this isolation won’t be forever.  We trust that we will be able to travel again, to see our children/grandchildren again, to visit with friends.  But for the moment we are left in limbo.  The questions and the uncertainty circle around us.  Like the disciples, we have to wait.  

In our waiting we listen for the voice of God, reminding us who God is, reminding us how God works. This week I read Borg and Crossan’s “Last Week”.  In it they assert that the focus of Jesus’ ministry was justice in the face of a corrupt government system.  During the week and on this Holy Saturday I am conscious that there are many people suffering, not just because of illness, but with loss of jobs, violence in their homes, mental health issues.  I am wondering not just about myself, but I wonder how we, the followers of Jesus, will respond to the pain of our world.  It is tempting to shout with triumph that “Christ is Risen.”  I wonder though if we have to crawl into the tomb with people, wait through Holy Saturday, “holding hands” in the midst of pain, and let God lead us to resurrection, to new solutions, as we offer food, shelter, healing, and love.

Teachings in Crisis

I encountered the smell of freshly mowed grass on my walk today.  I love that smell.  It reminds me of hot summers, of family gatherings, of regular walks through neighbourhoods, of childhood joy and adulthood work.  It’s an evocative and lovely smell.

As the memories were flooding through because of the smell, I began to wonder what our children are saying, and will say,  about the virus and our lockdowns.  What will their memories of this time be?  No school, no hugs, washing hands, no visits to the seaside.  An hour walking in the neighbourhood every day, learning to cook with whatever is at hand, lots of screen time?  Children are great at saying things like they are.   Their words may then give us insight into how we have responded to this “crisis.”  When our children speak, I wonder what they will tell us about ourselves?

Another question that may arise in reflecting on what our children are learning is, “What do we want them to learn from us?”  I  hear a world leader drone on about building walls  and his prejudices.  In contrast, I hear others talk about community spirit.  Which do I want children to learn?  I hope we will all learn to let your walls down, to open space for people, to listen to voices that are different than ours.  Maybe we have to listen in different ways, look in at different media, but there are new and old voices that have something to teach us.  Will we listen to them?  Are we listening to our children?

A song that always touches me deeply is Marty Haugen’s, Let Us Build a House Where Love Can Dwell (All Are Welcome).   One of our basic human needs is shelter.  We need to be protected.  We need a place of safety.  What we are called to build is not a place that excludes but a place that welcomes, where the doors are not locked tight against the world, like the fearful disciples in an upper room after Jesus’ death, but a place in which doors are flung wide open and everyone can come in.  In that place they find physical safety and emotional and spiritual safety.  We are called to build a place that meets basic human needs—physically and spiritually.

So how can we, while social distancing, create the kind of place?  How do our children see us creating community, listening to God, responding basic human needs now? 

Teachings in Crisis

I encountered the smell of freshly mowed grass on my walk today.  I love that smell.  It reminds me of hot summers, of family gatherings, of regular walks through neighbourhoods, of childhood joy and adulthood work.  It’s an evocative and lovely smell.

As the memories were flooding through because of the smell, I began to wonder what our children are saying, and will say,  about the virus and our lockdowns.  What will their memories of this time be?  No school, no hugs, washing hands, no visits to the seaside.  An hour walking in the neighbourhood every day, learning to cook with whatever is at hand, lots of screen time?  Children are great at saying things like they are.   Their words may then give us insight into how we have responded to this “crisis.”  When our children speak, I wonder what they will tell us about ourselves?

Another question that may arise in reflecting on what our children are learning is, “What do we want them to learn from us?”  I  hear a world leader drone on about building walls  and his prejudices.  In contrast, I hear others talk about community spirit.  Which do I want children to learn?  I hope we will all learn to let your walls down, to open space for people, to listen to voices that are different than ours.  Maybe we have to listen in different ways, look in at different media, but there are new and old voices that have something to teach us.  Will we listen to them?  Are we listening to our children?

A song that always touches me deeply is Marty Haugen’s, Let Us Build a House Where Love Can Dwell (All Are Welcome).   One of our basic human needs is shelter.  We need to be protected.  We need a place of safety.  What we are called to build is not a place that excludes but a place that welcomes, where the doors are not locked tight against the world, like the fearful disciples in an upper room after Jesus’ death, but a place in which doors are flung wide open and everyone can come in.  In that place they find physical safety and emotional and spiritual safety.  We are called to build a place that meets basic human needs—physically and spiritually.

So how can we, while social distancing, create the kind of place?  How do our children see us creating community, listening to God, responding basic human needs now? 

The Privilege of Pandemic

 

For some time there has been talk about “white privilege.”  It has made a number of people uncomfortable.  It has challenged some of us to think about our lives as ones of privilege we hadn’t even been conscious of, and think about other people who have not been in that position in our societies.

 

Becoming aware of my privilege has made me uncomfortable sometimes.  I guess this links with guilt, but it isn’t just about pandemic guilt.  Instead it is linked with the reality of our societies.

 

The pandemic has brought this truth home to me again.  I am aware that I am in a fairly secure position.  I have a home with electricity and water.  I have enough money.  I have a job that doesn’t put me as risk.  I can still go to the shop if I need to do so.  I have people around me who support me.  I have more than enough.  I live in a pretty privileged life.  (Though honestly I take it for granted.)

My position is a place of privilege.  There are lots of people who do not have what I have, who long for it, who risk their lives by leaving country and family behind, to seek it.  There are people who risk their lives to provide for their children, working in unsafe conditions, and not just during a pandemic.  There are people who are struggling each and every day, not just because of the risk of a virus.  

I don’t want to say, “So don’t moan about anything.”  I don’t want to say, “There are always people worse off than me.”  I don’t want to compare my position or belittle anyone who is worrying right now. 

I simply want to remind myself of what I do have.   I want to live in a place of gratitude, not a place of ridicule or fear.  I want to remember those who are not in a position of privilege and find ways to support them now and in the future.  Jesus calls us to relationships which are just.  So I have to recognise my position and work for those who are not in the same position.  This seems like a first step toward justice.

Life isn’t easy right now.  I need to remember those for whom life is very challenging and care for them.  I need to listen to them, as they decide what they need from society to live whole lives.   When those in power ignore their voices, I, as a person with privilege,  need to advocate for their rights.  

Jesus calls us to see society in new ways and use our lives to create a place where all lives are valued and all voices heard.  The pandemic highlights the truth of white privilege—again.  Jesus us calls us, in the pandemic and afterward, to work for justice.

Running with Guilt

There is a lot of guilt running around in my house.  Social media is great, but I think I know too much (assuming everything I read it true.) I have colleagues posting all the things they are doing.  Their posts make me aware of things I could do but have chosen not to do, so far.  I have information about people in great need—and I really do not have a clue how I can get face masks to Gaza or create ventilators from c-pap machines.  I read about people gleefully decluttering their houses, but I did that last summer.  In addition, I see bags dropped in charity shop doorways to rest there for how long?  Not a good idea in my humble opinion.  

 

With guilt running around my house, I have a sense that I should be doing more.  Unfortunately, I am not sure what that “more” could be.  I am grateful I have a job.  I feel sad for those million people in the UK, and more across the globe, who are now unemployed, have lost healthcare, who can’t make it to the grocery store, who have no family to check on them, etc.  My list could be endless. 

Guilt runs into the room and I worry about people whose lives are more stressful now than before the lockdown—people having to find ways to do jobs from home while caring for small children; people going to work at hospitals, shops, public transport, and risking health for our care; people filling in forms for business loans, for income support, for new jobs.

The guilt dances around me.  I am not really sure what to do with it.  I am told that guilt is a useless emotion.  I think I agree with that assessment.  There is no purpose except for me to feel bad about where I am,  for me to feel bad about what I am doing, for me to get stuck in a mire and unable to do what I am doing.

I am not sure how to banish the guilt except to remind myself that I, like you, can only do what God calls me to in this time.  I, like you, can be grateful for those able to do other things, but I have to focus on my small corner, and my small tasks, supporting anyone I encounter from over 2 meters on the way.  That’s it.  If something comes into my way, and I can do, I will.  If it doesn’t, I keep doing what I can from here.  

Rather than guilt gluing my feet to the floor or dragging me down, I need to be aware of those who are at risk, those who have lost  a loved one, who have lost work, who have worked flat out.  I need to pray for them now, reach out to those I can, and remember to support them in the future.  The support may include listening to their tales.  It may also include, when this is behind us, seeking justice for them, when the system wants to forget their work and their needs.

When I open the door to I go for my walk today, maybe the guilt will run out of my house.  What I hope will stay is that care for people which connects us. 

We walk on

Without all the usual distractions of life, memories have been popping up—things I haven’t thought of in years.  Yesterday we came across a couple of fierce dogs, barking at each other while their owners held them back.  We were walking through an alley way, having explored a street we didn’t know. The only way out without retracing our steps was this alley.

The barking and the alley reminded by of the five year old me walking to and from school.  I hated going to school on my own. I loved school, but I was so afraid on that walk. I was also afraid of the dog that barked at me from behind a fence in the alley.  I was only five, and the dog sounded quite big and fierce. 

Fear runs at a low-level within me now.  Until yesterday I had not heard about anyone in Cardiff with Covid 19.  Until yesterday, everyone else I heard of was in England somewhere.  Yesterday I heard of someone here. Today I have heard of more people.   The virus has come “home.”  My fear inches up.

On my daily walk people simply don’t move out of the way.  When I go to the grocery store, people don’t give me the clearance I want.  My fear inches up.  It isn’t high, but it is there, in the back of my mind.

My kids say we, David and I, are at risk.  I don’t really think so, but when we read about people dying, I wonder.  My fear inches up.  My fear is still at a relatively low level, but it is higher than before the virus. 

A few years ago, I had a really low period.  In that time, I heard someone, can’t remember who now, speak about the 23rd Psalm.  I found the reflection quite comforting.  So on days when I really struggled, I would recite the Psalm to myself.  

Now the line that keeps coming to mind is, “When I walk through the valley of the shadow of deepest darkness, I won’t be afraid, for God is with me.” (Okay, this is my paraphrase based on some good scholarship.)  I keep coming back to this verse.  This is one of the most challenging times of my life, but fear does not need to be my/our main companion.  God is with me/us.

As we walk through this time, there are dogs barking, fear demanding our attention.  There are rules that requiring our compliance.  There are losses which will hurt us.  Still we walk on, to find our way to the place of stillness, of quietness and hope.  God is with us.   We walk on, together in our social isolation, still together because of our friendship and our faith.  We walk on, trying to master new technology, spending time alone when we prefer to be together.  We walk on—God is our companion and guide.