Dark Clouds and Silver Linings
As a boy growing up in southern California, I wasn’t exposed to a “snow day” until I moved to our nation’s capital for a college internship. One morning long before sunrise, I received a call from our head of staff who told me the Rayburn Building would be closed for the day. I was like, “Whaaat? Everything is shutting down?”
Of course, when I ventured outside, I realized why. Enormous tree branches lay on the sidewalk heavy with snow. Parked cars looked like stuffed igloos and the vehicles that were on the road looked like they were playing bumper cars. The streets were a mess!
Not a Snow Day
I don’t want to focus here on all the ways this dangerous and tragic global pandemic is different from a snow day or even its similarities. This pandemic and national emergency is nothing like my generation has ever seen. Clearly, this is not a snow day. It just won’t melt away when the sun comes out.
But it does have one similarity that affects us all. We are being told stay home, which in our fast paced, highly mobile, get-stuff-done oriented culture, invites us—well, let’s be honest, forces us—to change our routines.
But here’s the silver lining; changing one’s routine can have wonderful consequences if we stay open. A season of social distancing, for example, can stimulate our imaginations for how we love and care for each other. It can pull back the curtains to new ways of connecting and worshipping that we would not have otherwise seen.
What’s more, being forced out of our normal routines can stimulate us to try new experiments that we wouldn’t have otherwise attempted, or to take up former things that we have neglected but shouldn’t have.
From these experiments can come new practices that surprise us by their power to draw us closer to God and to each other, and which one day we may deem worthy to develop because of their life-enhancing qualities.
The Glory of the Church
It has been said, “The darkest clouds have the brightest linings.” Last week, the glory of the Church shone through our presbytery with such brilliance and creativity that it overshadowed the darkness.
Leaders from our congregations immediately began to share on our Facebook page what they were doing in response to the news that was changing by the hour. It was a tour de force of innovation, teamwork, and positivity that I have never seen but always knew lay beneath the surface.
If you read their posts, I think you will agree that they are doing an amazing job of keeping people safe and healthy during this crisis. But they are doing more than that. They are redeeming this present darkness by finding new ways to embody Christ’s love both inside and outside their churches.
In closing, allow me to share 10 principles I’ve seen or heard from our leaders that I think would be good for us all to consider:
1. Get closer to God. If there was ever a time to read scripture, meditate and pray, it is now.
2. Listen to science and medical authorities. They have the real scoop on what helps and what doesn’t.
3. Stay positive. This is not a time to be critical, especially of your elders and pastors. Limit your complaining. No sniping.
4. Communicate often. Check in with your brothers and sisters in Christ by phone or email, not just to see how they are doing but to encourage them.
5. Remember you are part of something larger. Even though you cannot gather in the same way, it is only for a time. Your sacrifice will make a difference in the health of friends, loved ones, and society.
6. Get out in nature. Trees, streams, flowers and hills don’t catch COVID-19. Immerse yourself in the healing power of nature.
7. Get active. Whether you are inside or outside, move. Put on an exercise video, go on a hike, or shoot hoops at the local park.
8. Tackle nagging unfinished tasks (that drive you NUTs). Clean out your closet. Write that big report or paper. Plan your retirement. You get the idea.
9. Crack jokes and watch funny videos (or whatever makes you giggle). Kitten and puppies can be truly funny.
10. Look for miracles. There is nothing so powerful as unity. It is one of the Bible’s and Jesus’ favorite topics. When people set their hearts and minds on something together, amazing things happen.
With you on the way,