A blessing to call you back to life
Almost a year ago now, we held what we would later discover would be our last day of in person church meetings. Fortunately, we had a lot of fun things going on that day. In the early afternoon, we had a party in my backyard for our children’s program. There were 15 kids running around, searching for hidden treats, and playing. Later that day, we had been invited over to the house of one of our congregants for an activity called puppy church. One of our congregant’s dog had given birth to eight puppies and the puppies were now old enough to play outside. Our families gathered at our friend’s house and we all played with puppies. The puppies tired themselves out within about 15 minutes of our arrival and it was not long before each kid had a sleeping puppy in their lap. We spent quite a while petting sleeping puppies. It was a Sunday full of joy, connection, celebration, and a deep appreciation of life and rest.
In the week that followed, we all gave up more than we had ever thought we could for Lent. We gave up meeting in person. We gave up seeing our friends and family. We gave up sending our children to school. We gave up a sense of safety. We gave up going to the supermarket and assuming that the shelves would be full of the food that we needed. We gave up going places. We lost loved ones and watched others lose their loved ones. Perhaps we gave up the myth that racism isn’t present in our communities. Perhaps we gave up the myth that we are all committed to democracy. We gave up so much and all of it was painful.
Last year, Easter came and went and we have all remained in this Lent-like state of giving things up, and making sacrifices for our own individual safety and for our community’s safety. As we begin Lent in 2021, many of us might be feeling like it never ended and we’ve been doing this for a whole year now.
We might typically begin Lent by talking about beginning a journey into the wilderness, but I want to acknowledge that the wilderness is the place where already are. We will probably bear the scars of this extended wilderness journey for a while.
The lectionary text for this week references the story of Noah (Genesis 9:8-17), not the building of the ark, or being on the ark, but the end of that whole terrible ordeal, where the floodwaters recede and the land dries up and the people on the boat begin to rebuild their lives after the trauma of isolation and the deaths of so many. As our local areas work to get the pandemic under control, as we see many receive the vaccine, as many children go back to school, as we see our communities and our nation struggle to create justice for those who have been marginalized, we might be finally seeing the waters of various disasters recede, we may be experiencing a new hope.
I am wondering how, after so much loss, after so much has been given up, where do we begin to sense an invitation to new life?
A blessing to call you back to life
We have been in this holding pattern
For a year now.
There is the waking and the eating
The dishes and the chores
The caring for others
Mostly from a distance
The washing of hands and hair.
We are perpetuating life
While hovering in the dead space
Between the end of the world
And life going on.
The life we are living in this moment
Is filled with a threatening isolation
Of every existing problem.
And now we are at a strange and delicate moment
Where it feels almost safe to start hoping again.
May we remember
That the Divine Spark of Living
Does not require grand gestures
Or expensive technology.
She only needs an idea,
Something about kindness
Something about love
The love of family
The love of friends close and distant
The love of community
To hold you in your gloom
A bit of playfulness
To counter the moments of danger
The warmth of memories
In the night.
The Divine Spark knows you
Wraps you into Her soft-smelling self
And will not let go
As She calls you
Out of the wilderness
Back to life
Not the same one that was lived before
But a new life
With new wisdom
About family and community
And our responsibilities to each other.
This excerpt and blessing are from my work today with the Pacific Southwest International Mission Center for Community of Christ. I initially wrote the blessing for a friend and adapted it here for Lent and our community.