I don’t know about you, but last week felt like a year to me. I was really doing alright. The days were long, but we had some small victories on Zoom, FaceBook, and with an old fashioned phone tree.
Then Sunday rolled around again and we didn’t go to church. Sure, I didn’t go to church last week either. But I gotta admit… it kinda felt like a vacation day. I watched the livestream of Eucharist from the National Cathedral with 19,000+ other folks and thought, “How great is this!?! I can worship in my pajamas while drinking my coffee and skip a 40 minute commute!”
But self-isolating Sunday number two didn’t feel so great. I got on a Zoom meeting at 10:25 to do my first “Virtual Godly Play Session” expecting five to eight families. As folks started to arrive I was so thrilled they showed up and so excited to see their faces.
Then more and more people joined and it got loud and I couldn’t see everyone, so I just immediately jumped into the prayer and the story. I managed to get through that ok, but the wondering was sort of a disaster. I hadn’t anticipated so many people, so I didn’t think through how we would share in an organized fashion. Kids talked over each other. I had a hard time hearing some of the youngest voices. And at one point a five-year-old piped up loudly, “Hey! You skipped me!”
I completely forgot to lead a time of intercessions and basically closed it down ASAP with a solo of “Go Now In Peace.”
Later I cried. A lot.
All day I told myself, what a great problem to have! Some people who you have not seen in months were on! The kids were so excited to share during the wondering! It was just the first try, it’s ok if it wasn’t perfect.
But by 7:30 the tears were hovering just behind my eyelids. So, I called a dear friend. I told her how weird it was to tell as story into a muted video conference void. And how the wondering was awful and it was not the same. How most of all I was just terribly sad because I love those people. I love those kids so much. And I don’t know when we’ll be together again. And I don’t know how to do my job from a computer screen. And tears streamed down my face.
My wise friend said, “This feels hard because it is hard. Technology is great, but it’s not the same. It is not the same as being in person.”
Here We Are
Here we are. It’s Monday again. Work from home week two for me, maybe longer for you. And it feels hard. It is not the same.
During this global pandemic, we at Building Faith will keep doing what we always do: equipping faith formation leaders via new content, curated resources, and sharing great ideas from our audience with our audience.
But not today.
I love the creativity I’m seeing on social media – the virtual concerts and prayers written in sidewalk chalk. I rest assured in God’s unfailing love for us and for all that God has made, even in the midst of fear, disease, distance, loss, and death.
And, this is hard. Just like you, I am overwhelmed. I am mentally exhausted. I am desperately trying to readjust. I miss my people. I am taking it one day at a time.
My goal today is to send this out to you with love, to pray for each member of each family in my congregation by name, and to take a nap. Oh, and I’ll be listening to “It Is Well With My Soul” by some folks from VTS on repeat and reading and re-reading “When The Going Gets Tough” by Katrina Kenison.
So until tomorrow friends, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13
Special thanks to The Rev. Elizabeth Henry-McKeever whose faithful witness and practical wisdom lights the way for me when things get cloudy.
Sarah Bentley Allred is an editor for Building Faith and the Director of Children and Families Ministries at St. John’s in Wake Forest, North Carolina. She is currently working from home with her husband, Richard, and their rescue dog, Grace.