The Weight

For the most part, I’ve managed the stress of the pandemic with a fair degree of success. I lowered my expectations for “being productive,” which was made easier once I resigned from ABCNJ 1. I dove into my creative side as I tried to work out ways to guide Central on the path of discipleship when all our “normal” ways of doing things got upended 2. And took some deep breaths and accepted that time alone is in short supply in pandemic-land. Outdoor time with friends, on the porch or by our fire pit, helped. And worship was key for maintaining some rhythm in life 3, even when our building was shut down.

But I have to say, the last few days have been hard. My wife has students back in her class today, even though nearly every district surrounding has had to shut down over CoVid concerns. Stress over Thanksgiving, in light of rising cases all around us, is eating at me. And the prospect of a new shut down threatens to throw us all back to step one of this process 4. It’s hard.

Yesterday, as I went over to the church building to get set up, I could feel the weight pulling me down. Dreary day, dismal prospects, and the depressing oddity of pandemic life got to me. As I set up he camera and got the sound system running I felt the ache for normality in a way I had not yet felt. I know normal doesn’t live here now, but boy I wish it did.

This ache didn’t dissipate as the sparse crowd began to trickle in for worship. It was good to see people, and that did buoy my spirits as bit as we social-distance chatted, but the energy is so different from “the before times” and it’s impossible not to notice. But then I saw a couple of folks enter I’d not seen at indoor worship for months and the ache shifted to a painful joy. It’s good to see someone, even if we are masked and distant. Even socially inept introverts who hate crowds are social creatures, and any physical reminder that our relationship circles do still exist in meatspace is a most welcome relief.

Central has a thing called “Wellness Hour,” started by a member of the congregation. People come, sit socially distant from one another, and chat for a bit. Sometimes there’s a devotion, frequently there is prayer, but people are free to come and go as they need. The point is, simply, to see and be seen. I’ve always recognized the value in this, and when it was suggested I gave my wholehearted blessing to the endeavor. But, yesterday, I knew the value it has. The need for present community never ends, and we all need to find creative ways to see that those needs continue to be fulfilled.

  1. The irony is, I’m probably more productive for Central Baptist now than I have been in the better part of a decade, even though I’m “less productive” over all. Life is weird. 
  2. And I only took up Zoom when there was no other way good way to do accomplish some necessary task. 
  3. It is March 260th
  4. And after some stories I’ve heard lately, this will probably be coming sooner rather than later.