The week of March 15, most of our lives changed dramatically and suddenly. The news is scary, our routines have been affected in various ways, many of us may be facing loss of income, and perhaps worst of all, we really don’t know how long the changes will last or whether we’ll be going ‘back to normal’ at some point. Or whether normal is going to change permanently. By the time you read this I expect that some of you or at least someone you know is likely to be experiencing the novel coronavirus up close and personal.
I am experiencing all of this right along with you. As I said to the youth group, meeting via Zoom on the 15th, this whole thing is a really steep technological learning curve combined with high anxiety. I don’t have answers. My job, and the job of the rest of us on staff at MLUC, is to hold the space for your questions, fears, and concerns. Church is a place where we don’t have to pretend we’re okay if we’re not; it’s also a place where we can share some optimism and hope. We will be checking in with you, providing opportunities for you to connect with us and each other via video conferencing, and making worship happen via livestream. We’ll also be providing resources as we figure out what people need the most, and which of those needs aren’t getting met other places. It’s going to be a process.
As a parent of four children, I’m especially concerned with how families with young people are coping. Some of our kids may be scared; others are just bored. All kinds of educators are sharing an almost overwhelming plethora of resources. These are great; AND your kids probably need time to play, relax, and process whatever they’re feeling more than they need any specific piece of content you or your school could provide via distance learning. I wish I could give that time to all the grownups I know too, but we can definitely give it to the kids. Some kids need more structure and some need less, but even most of those who need structure don’t need the structure to be exactly like school. Maybe plan to do one specific learning activity per day. Provide resources like arts and crafts supplies, building toys, educational apps, cooking supplies, or whatever your kids’ go-to projects are. Your kids will learn; that’s what human children are very best at doing. They may learn different things than they would have learned in school, but that is really, truly, okay.
I’ll end with a quote that resonates with me, from last month’s Vespers service, part of a poem called A Valley Like This by William Stafford.
But maybe sometime, you will look out and even
the mountains are gone, the world become nothing again.
What can a person do to bring back the world?
We have to watch it and then look at each other.
Together hold it close and carefully save it,
like a bubble that can disappear
if we don’t watch out.
Carefully hold the bubble between us, preserving safe physical distance, but working together emotionally, spiritually, and socially.