My middle-schooler is done with the online camp she was participating in at the start of the summer and now we’re confronted with a long expanse of calendar when her parents are working and where she’s at looser ends than we’d like. We, like many others I know, have seen our way through to be ok with her participating in outdoor activities with friends, observing all the appropriate precautions. However, unlike her older sibling who’s recently acquired a drivers license and is therefore self-mobile (at least when she takes one of our cars), middle-schooler needs some parental involvement in coordinating schedules, and that’s how I found myself earlier this week, texting with some friends who have a similarly aged kid, wondering about a gathering.
Just as I was about to hit send, I had a powerful yearning to suggest that we also get together for dinner, and I remembered with bittersweet sadness the many wonderful evenings we’d spent in each other’s company, at each other’s houses, cooking, laughing, eating, playing games. All the things that we can’t quite do in quite the same ways or anywhere near as easily. I had to say no to the thing I wanted to do because the thing I wanted to do wasn’t actually the right thing to do in that moment.
I feel like I’ve needed to do that a lot recently – do the thing I don’t want to do. Say no to something I don’t want to say no to. Some call it adulting. Sucking it up and doing the thing we don’t want to do because it is the right thing to do. And this pandemic has been full of such things from wearing a mask because it protects others to telling our kids, early in the pandemic that no, they couldn’t go see their friends because at that time, we just didn’t know what was and wasn’t “safe.”
What’s even harder is that in the midst of this, there are those amongst us, and certainly in this country who are not doing the hard thing and saying no. In fact, recent news would suggest that thanks to all those who were unable to do the hard thing, to make the hard decision, coronavirus rates are rising fast and much of the rest of the world is banning entry to travelers from the US. Some of us are making the hard choices, others are not, and we’re all paying the price, and will continue to pay the price for quite some time to come.
We are only at the beginning of this pandemic, and I am quite sure that my resolve and tenacity will be tested more times than I can imagine. Maybe next time it will be the invitation to dinner, or the impulse purchase that my family really can’t afford. Or maybe it’ll be a desire to go to the gym even though I have a scratchy throat and headache coming on. Whatever it is, I know it will happen, and I’m pretty sure it will happen for you all as well.
It is times like this when our faith is tested that we get to learn more about what we really value, what we really believe. This can be a difficult, embarrassing thing, or it can be a generative and life-giving one. Our hearts can rarely help wanting what they, what we want. And yet perhaps together in community we can support each other in holding on not to what we want, but what we need, perhaps we can help each other make the hard decisions and keep us all safe, together.
This weekly pastoral message by the Interim Ministry Team comes out on Wednesdays. Rev. Meg, Rev. Terri and Arif will take turns writing or recording a video.