For the last three months, most of us (perhaps all of us) have
been operating out of Emergency Mode. We have made
decisions on a moment to moment, day by day basis, as we have
attempted to figure out the best path amidst the chaos that living
with a pandemic has created. And, really, I have been amazed by
the creativity and adaptive energy that everyone has shown.
Besides keeping worship going, feeding people, providing
information and resources to our neighbors—we have had
parades, celebrated milestones, and continued work on the
Memorial Prayer Garden and Labyrinth. We have begun the
process of creating outdoor meeting space that can be used for worship and other events while maintaining for physical distancing. The amount of time, energy, financial support, emotional encouragement, and patience is beyond counting. God is good. And, as I begin my fourth year as your pastor, I feel blessed indeed.
So, now what? We are in month four of our changed global reality. We are weary. None of us can live in emergency mode for long without paying a toll—physically, emotionally and spiritually. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had over these last weeks about the exhaustion, depression and anxiety so many of us are experiencing. In emergency mode, our bodies are flooded with chemicals demanding fight, flight or freeze. Living in a chemical bath of that nature for days, weeks, months does not put us in an optimal condition to make good decisions, to tolerate frustrations, or to be patient enough to allow for our best selves to be in the driver’s seat.
This week I recalled the story of what historians now call the “Phony War.” At the beginning of World War II, Britain braced itself for air attacks from the Germans. They spent weeks preparing for invasion from air and sea. Air raid precautions, black out restrictions, food rationing, mandatory curfews, mandatory gas masks, limited public transportation, and children being evacuated to the countryside. It was an intense time of preparation and waiting. And then nothing happened. For weeks. And weeks. People began to resent the sacrifices they were making for a war that didn’t appear to be happening. They were frustrated. They were angry. The were resentful. The stalemate continued for eight long months. And then, the war became all too real.
Dealing with a pandemic these last three months might seem a bit like living with the “phony war.” We stayed home. We put off trips. We limited going to the grocery store. We sanitized anything that didn’t move out of the way. And nothing seemed to happen. Many, maybe even most of us, do not know anyone who has caught the virus. But some of us do. More of us will.
What I would like to suggest for us, Beloved, is that now is the time to take a deep breath and consider living into a phrase that Beth Ann Beamer said to me this week: “Buckle down and do right.” That pretty much covers it. We are a people of hope. We are in it for the duration. God walks with us—into the times of quiet waiting, and in the moments of greatest danger. I am so thankful that we are in this together.