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By Rev. Lee Roorda Schott
Over the weekend, in the tedium of working on taxes, I had gone online for details from my bank records from last year. I scrolled through the months and came to last March and was astonished at the tears that came out of nowhere. It wasn’t about the numbers! It was grief I didn’t expect to be waiting for me in that particular spot. Bumping into those last weeks that were “normal” brought up a flood of memories, of so much that happened then, and since.
That experience matched up with something I heard Rev. Andrea Severson say to a group of clergy last week. Andrea is a United Methodist elder who serves in extension ministry at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center. Drawing on her experience as a spiritual director and mental health counselor, she said the pandemic has involved a kind of collective trauma. She said, “We haven’t had energy or space to grieve” that, while it was happening to us. But now with lower case numbers and more vaccinations, we’re finding there’s a little room—more than we’ve had across this year. So it’s no surprise, she said, that with that room “the grief comes flooding in.”
This certainly feels true to me, based on my own experiences and conversations I’ve been having, and some of the comments I’ve seen on Facebook. I asked Andrea if she’d join me in a short conversation on this subject, for this our Abiding in Exile post for Holy Week, and she said yes.
I mention that it’s Holy Week because this work of remembering at this stage of the pandemic feels somehow related to why we return every year to Holy Week. We wouldn’t have to. Not every church follows the Christian year; maybe yours doesn’t. My own experience of church has been deeply etched with the cycle of returning, year after year, to the seasons and holy days that shape time for us as followers of Jesus. Coming to Holy Week is a discipline of remembering—or Re-Member-Ing—reconnecting the hardest parts of our story which often become, in unaccountable ways, the most glorious.
I hope you’ll receive the gift of the conversation Andrea and I had about all of this, by clicking on this link. It’s seven minutes of holy reflection on this time and this week.
Be gentle with yourselves as you walk through this tender time of pandemic and the ReMemberIng that God might be using to bring us to greater wholeness