This will pass, but what will we learn?

Together, we take a deep breath in…and out. We begin our worship gatherings this way, and I’m always surprised how much people appreciate the invitation to breath deeply. Maybe you could too. I think about you in these days of quarantine and social distancing. I wonder how you’re doing. How you’re feeling.

Maybe you’re feeling panicked and afraid. There is much to worry about if you give yourself permission to go down that path. Maybe you’re indifferent and annoyed. You’re willing to make some changes on behalf of others but this seems over the top. Maybe you’re confused. You want to do what’s best for our public health but everyone’s got a different opinion on what to do.

Regardless of where you are on that spectrum, friends, this is a significant life event. Let’s be people who are willing to disrupt our lives for a couple months (or more) if it saves a life.

Yes, it’s awkward. But this will pass. And lately I’ve been wondering what we’ll learn in this time together.

Some of us resist silence and boredom. We’re being invited to wrestle a little deeper with that. Some of us get our self worth by being productive. That may change, and it’s a clear invitation to question that belief. Some of us are expert-level at pushing away our problems and pain. But with extra space, that stuff may not stay hidden anymore. It’s as if your heart is hand delivering you an invitation to grow. Yes, it’s annoying, difficult and awkward. But the transformation always happens in the in-between spaces we’d rather avoid. This is what Lent is all about.

We’re literally in a season of self-reflection and fasting to prepare our hearts to walk with Jesus to the cross and through to the empty tomb of Easter morning.

Friends, know that I’m holding you in prayer in these days. As we quarantine and shift our daily life, may we care for those for whom this is a scary time due to employment and financial realities.

And may we take Sarah Bessey’s words to heart: “It’s interesting to me that the advice we are hearing: avoid crowds, stay connected, look after your neighbors, love the vulnerable with your choices, wash your hands, go outside, be in nature instead of crowds means we might just become better humans during this ordeal.”

Palms up, my friends. We’ll get through this together.

Jenny Smith is pastor of Marysville United Methodist Church. Our faith column runs monthly.