Often when I read scripture, or remember the stories of our faith, I think about the feelings within the story. Right now in this moment in our lives there are a lot of feelings floating about in the air. I’ve heard from multiple people in multiple places that many (I include myself in this) feel like we have hit a wall. Being overwhelmed has almost become a normal feeling state, rather than a fleeting one. Like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, we too are in a time of “inbetween-ness,” of unknown space and time, of transitions into we know not what. Knowing we are right at the 6 month mark of being changed by this pandemic, I offer words to help us while we are in the in-between places. They come from Dr. Aisha Ahmad and I hope they bring you a sense of perspective that you are not alone as we experience these days together. My prayer is that you take her words to heart, take a breath and a pause, and remember that you are a miracle and a marvel.
Peace be with you, Pastor Ruth
“The 6 month mark in any sustained crisis is always difficult. We have all adjusted to this “new normal”, but might now feel like we’re running out of steam. Yet, at best, we are only 1/3 the way through this marathon. How can we keep going? First, in my experience, this is a very normal time to struggle or slump. I *always* hit a wall 6 months into a tough assignment in a disaster zone. The desire to “get away” or “make it stop” is intense. I’ve done this many times, and at 6 months, it’s like clockwork. This time, our crisis is global and there is nowhere to run. That’s OK. I’ve had to power through that 6 month hump before and there is life on the other side. Right now, it feels like we are looking ahead at a long, dark wintery tunnel. But it’s not going to be like that. Rather, this is our next major adaptation phase. We’ve already re-learned how to do groceries, host meetings, and even teach classes. And we have found new ways to be happy and have fun. But as the days get shorter and colder, we need to be ready to innovate again. This is my first pandemic, but not my first 6 month wall. So, what can I share to help you? First, the wall is real and normal. And frankly, it’s not productive to try to ram your head through it. It will break naturally in about 4-6 weeks if you ride it out. Of course, there are things we have to do. Work. Teach. Cook. Exercise. But just don’t expect to be sparklingly happy or wildly creative in the middle of your wall. Right now, if you can meet your obligations and be kind to your loved ones, you get an A+. Also, don’t be afraid that your happiness & creativity are gone for the rest of this marathon. Not true. I assure you that it will soon break & you will hit a new stride. But today, roll with it. Clear away less challenging projects. Read a novel. Download that meditation app. Frankly, even though we cannot physically leave this disaster zone, try to give yourself a mental or figurative “shore leave.” Short mental escapes can offer respite and distance from the everyday struggle. Take more mental “leave” until you clear the wall. In my experience, this 6 month wall both arrives and dissipates like clockwork. So I don’t fight it anymore. I don’t beat myself up over it. I just know that it will happen & trust that the dip will pass. In the meantime, I try to support my mental & emotional health.
Take heart. We have navigated a harrowing global disaster for 6 months, with resourcefulness & courage. We have already found new ways to live, love, and be happy under these rough conditions. A miracle & a marvel. This is hard proof that we have what it takes to keep going.
So, dear friends, do not despair of the 6 month wall. It’s not permanent, nor will it define you in this period of adversity. Trust that the magic that helped you through the first phase is still there. Take a breath & a pause. You’ll be on the other side in no time.”
God of the covenant, As you promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars, you have also promised us that we might live under those stars as your people, faithful and loved. Show us how to live as your people, and how to nurture all your children with whom we share the same canopy of sky night after night. Amen.