Time feels different to me right now. It feels to me like time is both slowing down and at the same time moving ahead at a rapid pace. I wake up and listen to the news and a few hours later everything has changed. I text with a friend who’s been sick, and I think, “you’ve been ill for a really long time, shouldn’t this virus have passed by now?” and then realize it’s only been two days, so no, that would be unlikely. This simultaneous speeding up and slowing down is disorienting. I’m finding it difficult to remember what day it is.
I’m reminded of times I’ve been mired in grief, when I feel like I’m walking in a cloud of sorrow that distorts my vision and leaves me confused. I can feel the anxiety in the air. Thankfully, as an introvert, my primary treatment for my anxiety is running—something I can still do while practicing social distancing. It helps a little, but still I worry. I worry for the vulnerable: for my older friends and family, for my immunocompromised friends, for the unsheltered, those who are becoming unemployed, and for those who rely on food pantries and may go hungry.
Every time I wash my hands (which is a lot these days) I say a prayer. I pray for our prayer list, I say the Lord’s Prayer, I pray for the vulnerable, I pray for those who have no one to pray for them. I also offer prayers of thanksgiving: for the health care workers tirelessly serving our communities, for the scientists working to find treatments and vaccines, for the companies that are changing their production lines to make more ventilators, for the educators finding ways to keep our children connected and learning even in this unusual time, and for all those practicing social distancing even at great emotional cost.
And so, we continue. I practice self-care by running, by limiting my news intake to once or twice a day instead of every hour, by reading books, and by volunteering at the food pantry. I look for the news stories of people helping, of people connecting—maintaining relationships even in the midst of social distancing, and I see that God is at work in our world. The church is present in the midst of disconnection. The church is here.
— Hilary Cooke