Flattening the curve for nearly a year now, God. At first, mostly so we could all get back to doing what we were doing before. Then people were dying. We were caught off guard and couldn’t lay them to rest as we were taught. We couldn’t wrap our arms around shocked people or sit quietly beside them while they cried. Next our medical staff were giving their lives in the service of your human beings. So many people just doing jobs that suddenly became dangerous. And where were we? Arguing about closing and opening churches. Singing and not singing. Masking and not masking. Money and no money. Flattening one curve, while another steepened before our eyes and left us clumsy, our sermons deflated by technological glitches, our faces strained with stress and fatigue and as much fear as faith captured for all time on video, sacraments and rituals reinventing themselves in the hands of your people as if they didn’t need us after all. What do you need me for, now, God? I am near spent doing things that are iffy. It is stretching out before us all much longer than we thought, and I don’t know what you are doing. I don’t.

Make me deeper than clever and wider than great. Show me what else I can be, what else I am. Nudge me into that steady place where I see your love and mercy moving ceaselessly around me and everyone. Give me words and heart and spirit to tell people what it looks like when your love and mercy moves around them, to help them feel you there with them. Is there more than this? Maybe to ask where it is going next, what it will do there, and why? I will start there.

Again.

Diane Strickland, ordained for 33 years, is a Community & Workplace Traumatologist, Compassion Fatigue Specialist–Therapist and Critical Incident Responder. She is retired in The United Church of Canada, serving special emergent needs–like supporting ministers and ministries during a pandemic.

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