I’m feeling some trepidation lately as we learn more about what new turns the coronavirus may be taking, and some of the conversations I’ve had this week show me I’m not alone in that. I think my biggest fear, outside of basic health and safety, is that as the time comes for us to heighten our precautions again and possibly renew some of our social distancing measures, everyone will be so burnt out from our recent time in quarantine that we’ll just fall apart and be even more isolated than before.
I felt a little tinge of this fear on Sunday when our attendance was a little lower than usual in person and online, which I imagine is also a factor of it being summer, vacation time, almost time to start school and general uncertainty about the virus and safety. I felt a tinge of this fear when the sky got a bit hazy this week, and I imagined all of this coinciding with another brutal fire season and unbreathable air quality.
Feeling these kinds of fears, after the traumatic experience we’ve all just been through together over the past 18 months, is perfectly natural. But what can be a perfectly spiritual remedy in moments like this is to also feel a courageous kind of hope. The poet Karle Wilson Baker wrote that courage is, “The calloused scar/ Of outlived despairs:/ Courage is Fear/ That has said its prayers.” As a whole community, we’ve certainly outlived many despairs over the past 18 months, and it’s a helpful exercise to remember how.
At St. Michael’s, it’s been through innovative ways of showing up where we’re able to, whether that be in new online arenas or in small pockets face-to-face. Many of the connections that existed before the pandemic have grown stronger, and some new ones have grown deeper as well through our online formation offerings. We’ve clarified the things that matter most to us, and our appreciation for the graces we’re able to find has sharpened. Even if all we’ve learned is not enough to assuage our fears of what’s to come, we can hold those fears before God in prayer and ask for the quiet trust to bring us through whatever lies ahead of us. In practical terms, we continue to evaluate best practices for gathering at each new step this journey takes us on, the safety of our community being a primary concern. In spiritual terms, we can continue to grow closer to God in prayer, no matter what happens next.