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The Spirit of Togetherness

My women’s Bible Study met via Zoom this morning, or at least six of us were able to make it. I’m happy that we make a diverse group, age-wise, ranging from the late twenties to (just a guess) members who are likely north of seventy. So our life experiences are varied. Among us, we include women who’ve known family members who were born not long after the Civil War, and we have at least one member who probably can’t even remember what the world was like when there were pay phones on nearly every corner. Together, we represent a shocking span of time, when I think about it.

What unites us most is our commitment to Christ, crucified, died and risen, and a common belief that prayer matters. In these days of Covid-19 (and I know, sadly, that we’re only in the early days) it is important to us to continue to meet together  (virtually)  and to  pray (in reality), not just for ourselves, but for our families, the church, our country, and the world. Believers of all kinds get this. Now we’re really getting the chance to show that we mean it.

I’m grateful for the technology that makes togetherness so possible in this time of being apart. We’re all figuring out just how this can work. My husband has banished himself to our basement playroom, where, early in the week, he set up a big round table and his laptop. It’s all carpeted and nice down there, so I can’t feel so very sorry for him. He can talk on the phone all day long, and keep his business on track, please God. That sense of normalcy reassures me.  Our paths cross most often when I come through with a basket on my way to the laundry, an oddly comforting task. I can stop and blow him a kiss. That’s a nice new change.

Our sixteen-year old is in her room a lot, doing schoolwork, which seems to be in full swing. I make her come out to go on walks, with me or alone. But sometimes, thankfully, I hear her laughing with her friends on Facetime. She invited me in today to say “Hi,” to the group. “I love you guys,” I said. “Here are two questions for you to discuss: How is your relationship with God, and do you have enough toilet paper?”

By this time my daughter was trying to push me out of the door, and her friends were laughing their heads off. “It’s okay!” I reassured her, clapping my hand over her mouth. (Not a social distancing maneuver at all.) There was even more laughter. “Okay,” I said. “Go!” I doubt that they took my advice, but maybe I planted a seed.

I’m looking for the openings, the little ways where I can find an avenue to let God work in bigger ways than I’ve allowed him to work before. Oh, I’m pretty sure that there are going to be plenty of chances to be bold, let go of fear, and to trust him. Even chances to see his mercy through the sadness. I’m beyond worrying about where it’s appropriate to bring up God or faith or my prayer life.

As elsewhere, in our state, the bars and restaurants are closed, all non-essential businesses are moving their workers home, and alarmingly, some are already losing their jobs. My older daughter, a nurse, is concerned that they won’t have the masks and equipment they may need very soon in her hospital. Like everyone, I’m worried about the elderly, and worried about how so many will manage financially. I guess that we’re all praying that the pandemic will pass quickly, and with as little damage as possible. I stay up on the news, as best I can. We all know that the loss has begun. I’m trying to cook better meals with our carefully collected stock of food, and I’m dreaming of the bidet we’ll put in one day when we’re finally able to renovate our master bathroom. Observing myself from a slight distance, I see in my thinking the absurd juxtaposition of the silly and the sublime. Thankfully, this makes me feel a sense of solidarity with my neighbor. I’m guessing that a lot of folks are feeling a lot like me. When is the last time that we all had to face something this big together? Oh, it’s important to hold on to dreams when things look so glum, even if it’s just to ask for the right to maintain minimal standards of hygiene.

But when I’m thinking loftier thoughts, I’m there with all who pray:

Please Lord, comfort those who are the most vulnerable. Give courage to those who are sick, and to those who are alone. Give strength and fortitude to all of those who are on the frontlines, in hospitals and urgent care centers and medical offices. Grant counsel and right judgment to those who are doing everything they can to save our economy from a terrible downturn. In your mercy, Lord, bless us all with the gift of knowledge, to perceive this new reality as only You can see it, and to become a people who turn to You when it is so clear that we need Your help. Help us to be of use to others wherever, and whenever we can. Make us kinder, more patient, and more forgiving. Give us the grace to repent of our own sins, big and small, and release us from our own petty foolishness. Help us in simple piety, to humbly fear You only Lord, but nothing and no one else. Help us, dear Lord, to be courageous before all that is dark, and to do our best to put it into the light.

Come Holy Spirit

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