Sunday, March 29, 2020

Time of COVID-19 Post 1

Church in the garden goblin village constructed by our 7yo.
I'd like to start writing regularly here again, during this strange and stirring and difficult time. But I've been in a strange kind of trance in the last two weeks, and busy too- busier in some ways than "normal" life, with the children and husband at home and trying to plant a garden in the woods. I've learned to use the chainsaw (and almost cut my son's leg off, seriously- God's grace in that is enough to make me fall on my face again and again and cry when I think about it).  I've commandeered protesting children into dragging logs and branches, and planted 12 berry plants, and containers of beans and cucumbers on our deck where hopefully deer won't eat the tender sprouts. I have all sorts of plans and ideas outside  that could keep me occupied from dawn to dusk, but I have other things to tend to besides planting food... like cooking and preparing it for the hungry little horde in my home, and roping that horde into new routines, like cleaning up after themselves and doing more chores than they normally would since they are making all kinds of messes and tracking in dirt and leaves all day and leaving drinking glasses coated with peanut butter smoothies to dry into peanut butter clay on the coffee table.

I feel tired reading the news, and beyond tired after venturing out in my raincoat, headscarf and mask to a store and coming home and wiping everything down to disinfect it. We've switched to grocery delivery now. And I sit on our front steps and still wipe everything down and tip the shopper as much as I can for doing this now-dangerous job in our place. Do it. Tip those people like crazy if you can.

When I'm not gardening, cooking, and cleaning, I zone out on Facebook too much. And read The Brothers Karamazov, do crossword puzzles, read to the children, play games with them. Drink endless cups of tea. Tell kids to stop squabbling and use kinder voices and not grab and please, please load/unload the dishwasher.  When it was cold we had some wonderful fires in the fireplace but now it is suddenly summer and the AC and the fans are on. I try hard not to be cross and engage in silly arguments with certain lawyers-in-the-making that live here.

I want to see my parents who live so close and yet so far. We've had some distanced conversations outside in the garden. I want to hug them. But I don't want to kill them. I want to hug my dearest Kate who just moved here from overseas to shelter in place near us- but at least I can sit ten feet away and talk to her while her boys leap around in the woods and catch toads in the twilight.

How long? We are all asking that question. I fear it will be much longer than anyone is willing to say. We are all standing on the edge of a strange canyon that has opened in front of the global human race so unexpectedly.

We gathered as a family in the living room this morning with cups of tea and bowls of cereal to watch church, hear the beloved voices of our pastor and worship team. The dogs barked and competed for backscratches and were generally distracting. The gospel passage was about that time when Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus was deathly ill and L's sisters were begging him to come and heal him- and he didn't go, not until after Lazarus had been dead and buried in the tomb for four days. L's sister Martha meets him when he gets there and shows a fierce and tenacious trust in Jesus even though she is heartbroken and grief-stricken. Her sister Mary stays in the house- but when she hears that Jesus wants to talk to her she flies out and collapses at his feet, wailing the truth- "If you had been here, my brother would not have died!" And he weeps, shudders in agony, fully experiences the grief these people that he loves are experiencing. Then- he calls Lazarus out of the grave, restores him to full life, doing the miracle above all miracles, turning a stinking, decomposing body into a live, healthy one.

My heart heard: He is with us. He's not standing back from afar, laughing, saying "be happy, this is all going to work out for God's glory in the end." He is weeping with us, feeling with us, full of compassion. He is listening to our anger, our accusations, our wailing, and not turning away. He already knows the beautiful endings that will come out of this, things that we will see soon and things we won't see until the end of time, but that doesn't stop Him from being present in the agony and fear of His children sheltering in our homes, risking our lives to save the deathly ill, dying alone with no family saying goodbye or holding our hands.

Our pastor felt led to share with us a dream he had last night just before waking. He said he never remembers his dreams, much less ever has any idea what they are about. But this was different. He dreamed we, our church, went to our usual space at the botanical gardens to worship, but it was like a bomb had hit it. All the glass floor to ceiling windows were shattered, and the roof was gone. We left and went searching for another place to meet- a gymnasium, a school, another church, a cathedral- but all the places were the same. Like a bomb had dropped. So we went back to the gardens and began to worship, and heaven opened up in praise and worship over our heads.

May the Lord, the giver of life, the King of the Universe, be with us in our grief, and raise our decomposing bodies and souls and planet to full, living goodness, bursting with praise and joy. May it be soon. Come, Lord Jesus.

I love you all,

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