Oh, 2020, you crazy little year, we really didn’t expect this much drama from you.
Remember when we were so nervous about how we would weather another election year? Remember when we were having so much fun arguing online about whether or not people should get a flu shot? Remember when Facebook was full of our obnoxious relatives’ political posts instead of photos of empty grocery store shelves?
I was driving home from the grocery store today and I noticed all the bluebonnets growing along the side of the road. Usually, March is when Texans pull over in the middle of a random Tuesday and take photos of their kids sitting in the bluebonnets. Usually, this is the time of year we get to see everyone’s babies and grandchildren and dogs smiling in the middle of periwinkle fields on all available social media outlets.
I haven’t seen a single photo of babies basking in bluebonnets this year. I’m actually not too sad about that, though, because what people here never seem to remember is that spring is a special time of year for snakes, too. Snake babies hatch in spring, and they love those fields full of thick and lush bluebonnets as much as Pam from Fredericksburg.
I think it’s good to tally the upsides to social distancing and self-quarantines. First, there’s no need to be afraid of snakes when you aren’t even leaving your house. Second, we have time to be productive by cleaning out closets, to learn how to survive without restaurants by making our own chicken and waffles from scratch, or grow in our ability to plan a successful single life in Manhattan someday by binge-watching Friends for the 1000th time.
Third, we have time to pray. We have time to ask God to help us, to save us, to give us His peace. I know I make a lot of jokes, but I also feel the fear of the unknown that is knocking at our door every day. I walked through a mostly depleted grocery store and I could feel myself beginning to wonder when life would feel normal again.
Later, I scrolled through my photos of the past few weeks and began counting up the number of “lasts” I didn’t know would be “lasts” for a little while. My sons’ last baseball games. Our last corporate gathering as a church. The last airplane flight I would probably take this year, which was to my last speaking engagement. The last time I hugged someone who is not in my immediate family. Our last time in a hotel room for the foreseeable future. The last restaurant meal I would eat in a public place. The last day I assumed that the next two months would proceed as expected, with my plans pretty much in the driver’s seat.
And yet, in many ways, I love waking up to my kids at home, ready to help with yard work or play a game of dominoes. I love having Morgan work from home, even though he longs for his usual productive space in his office. I love having time to bake and crochet and write and do yard work we have been putting off.
What a strange and holy thing it is to lament what is lost and also treasure what can only be gained by walking a path we probably would not have chosen to take.
Today, I am praying for you. I am asking God to give you wisdom and hope as you make decisions about how to navigate circumstances that seem to be changing daily. I am praying for your communities, your churches, your friends, your families, your neighbors, that God would help you to care for one another well. Remember that Jesus said any time we feed the hungry or clothe the naked or care for the needy, all that we do for others is really done for Him.
May we love well as we live these strange and holy days, and may they transform our hearts to be able to love God more than we ever have before.
Amen and amen.