We are now six months into a global pandemic due to COVID-19. I won’t venture to mention the death toll. It will be higher by the time you read this. Someone is on their deathbed now, taking their last breath. Inhale. Exhale.
I do the same thing to keep calm. Breathe in. Breathe out.
But, it’s in the air. Masked, there is no need to cover our mouths. We are in a constant state of shock. I travel between “I can’t believe this is happening!” to “Is this really happening?” It’s a short commute, like my commute to work; I walk downstairs to my kitchen table.
It’s doing double duty, serving a dual purpose much like us. Holding dinner plates and my laptop, serving as the family hub and workstation. Napkins and post-its, salt and pepper shakers next to pens and pencils, it all goes together now. No division, no separation of my work and home life; it has all come together somehow.
Still, it feels like the world is falling apart. I look around and ask, “Who’s keeping things together?” My praying hands feel like paper clips, doing nothing more than bunching and holding pages of words together. My tongue is like a rubber band. Sometimes, even talking is a stretch. It can only hold so much, only wrap words around so much. When I pray now, so that I don’t get overwhelmed, I just say, “And such and such and such.”
Death is here in a way I have never seen. No dark figure and no black horse, Death is not lurking in the shadows. Death is wherever we are in groups. Wherever ten or more are gathered, Death may be present. It matters not the occasion or our intentions. You can go to a party or to a church service and the results will be the same.
We are allowed no mourning period because it never ends. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Death today, tomorrow, forever and ever. Amen.” The nightly news sounds more like a eulogy, celebrating an America that used to be so full of life but is no longer. And like any other death, it brings out the best and worst in us. We are fighting in the streets of Portland, Oregon and Rochester, New York, engaged in the cyclical process of grief over the senseless shooting of Jacob Blake and the death of Daniel Prude.
Bag over his face, he can’t breathe. Here we go again: Eric Garner, George Floyd, and now Daniel Prude. Now I am repeating myself. Did You hear me, God? Because they have said this before, and I did too. I am not looking up but around and wondering, “Who am I talking to?”
God with us? Well, where are You now? Because I know You saw it. Omnipresent, You cannot look away. So, who am I talking to really? God, the great wind bag, full of holy hot air? All talk, no action?
You certainly are not the God that I thought You were and Your ways are certainly a mystery. I do not understand You. I do not know You. But maybe that is the point, that I don’t realize Who I am talking to.
This post first appeared on Smyth & Helwys’ Coracle blog where I write on my praying life.
2 thoughts on “Praying during a Pandemic: Who am I talking to?”
Starlette, you have perfected the art of writing deeply and searingly in just 500 words. Thank you for this honest, vulnerable, truth-telling meditation.
Thank you, Melanie. I am just writing from where I am and hoping that I bump into a few folks. It sounds like I am not alone. I am both grateful and sad for this.