The new coronavirus pandemic has stopped the world. Our schools, workplaces, and our churches have closed as we grapple with a new normal.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, we want to hear from you: What does your life look like now?
What challenges are you or your community facing?
What faith or spiritual practices are sustaining you?
Tell us your story and we may feature it on the Sojourners site.
I’m surprised at myself. Worship, tactile and embodied, is always tied to particular places, and I relish that. Church on YouTube means no shifting light through stained glass in the eaves of Riverside Church; no communion wafers; no after-church biscotti. No incense and echo at St. John the Divine in New York, now converted into a field hospital. At our house church in Connecticut, I miss the thrum of the music in the soles of my feet, the program to crease and recycle. There are no children to chuckle at, coloring or rolling Hot Wheels. Out our sanctuary’s enormous windows, I watch hawks, sparrows, cloud movements, wildflowers. All around the world, people are missing the materiality of sacraments: water for baptisms, cups with the blood of Christ inside. One week, we take communion as a congregation with whatever we have on hand. Grape juice? Cranberry juice? Our pastor suggests. We don’t have juice. We have the real deal (red wine) but don’t feel like opening a new bottle just yet. We need to save that! (Quarantine has made us stingy with our provisions.) We use giant hunks of sourdough bread and cups of ice water. It feels ... fine.
I'm a student hospital chaplain. This pivotal year of my life in ministry will be defined forever by COVID-19. I signed up for war when I was 17. I'm three weeks away from 35 and being a Navy-then-Army veteran, eight years into my civilian life, at the "front lines" of a global pandemic; it's surreal, to say the least. Everyone is holding their breath, waiting for the bottom to fall out. Hospital staff are on edge. I've prayed the Lord's Prayer more in the last two weeks than I ever have in my whole life (said twice, it's roughly 40-ish seconds). There's high anxiety everywhere I turn, not least of all within myself. I am not the only chaplain in my department coming home at the end of the day, exhausted. I've slept the last two weekends almost straight through. In the hospital halls, I feel like I'm 16 again, knowing as only a military kid could on 9/11, that war was coming, but not knowing how, or when, or what role I'd play in it.
“During these forty days, I hope you carve out time to spend in meditation gardens,” our pastor Kate Martin said, a little before Lent began. Rather than seeing the season as a time for self-deprivation, our pastor invited the congregation to see it as a time to connect to our bodies and to the earth. How grounded must Jesus have been, she said, in order to feed and heal and love and serve as he did? I welcomed her perspective: If nothing else, it was a pleasant alternative to giving up television. That was right before COVID-19 seeped through California with a speed that startled us, right before rising statistics turned portions of our country’s map red like spots of blood. Now, gardens, parks, campgrounds, and beaches in San Diego are closed, and church is on the television. And that’s the least of it.