United Church of Christ

Into the Mystic: My Pandemic Litany of Loss

Talking with the Sacred can help soothe our soul in trying times such as these.

It has been almost five months now. We wait, and with each passing day realize the wait is going to be much longer than we thought.

We have all let go of important things. Some of them are little more than minor inconveniences - but when we add them all up, they overwhelm. Some of them are really big matters, though.

What do you miss the most?

Here is my list of losses, large and small. This is my Psalm of lament, my litany of loss. I offer it to God merely to hear, and if possible, to heal. I know more of this is coming and we are far from the end. But loss needs a listening, and so I send this up in a spirit of prayer to the one whose hearing matters much to me.

I grieve:

The loved ones who have died but whose funerals either didn’t happen or I couldn’t attend;

The sick whom I could not visit.

The grandchildren whom I now see only through my computer screen and who are growing day after day, week after week, month after month, and while they do that, I am only aware of the changes through cyberspace;

The lost trips to places where the Church called me to be present and to bear witness to or celebrate important moments in their life of shared faith;

Night after night of radio silence that would have been spent entertaining myself with the unfolding of a new season, tracking the ups and downs of the home team pitch by pitch, at bat by at bat, run by run;

The casual conversation with the co-workers in the hallway, and the serious, closed-door conversation with my most trusted colleagues discussing face to face important decisions that now we only process in emails or zoom calls;

My daily noon walk downtown, a slice of cheap but tasty pizza in my hand as I march by buildings old and new, pausing as always to look out over the lake and watch the ships come in;

Sitting in airport gates and watching the message board wondering if my delay is going to last long enough that I might miss my connecting flight while eating a cold egg biscuit I was going to eat on the plane - no, wait, that’s actually something I don’t miss;

The weekly trip to one of our favorite restaurants with my wife and son, the extravagance of a night out;

The once a month rendezvous with an old seminary friend and her husband that Mimi and I relished;

Hearing Pastor Kelly’s sermons from the pew in the back right of the sanctuary, and singing the bass line of the hymns in worship on the Sundays I was home;

Sitting in the stands on the 9th green at Firestone and watching the world’s greatest hit into the green;

Picnic dinners on the solstice steps with Mimi watching the sun set over Lake Erie;

My sabbatical, which was to have started a month ago, and which would have included a trip to see my daughter whom I haven’t seen in almost a year.

I grieve all this and more.

I speak this grief out loud to my sacred, the one I know most fully in Jesus and his abiding Holy Spirit. I ask only for the capacity to continue living, loving, and laughing through it all, good and bad, indoors or out, freed from pandemic or in quarantine for another while. Let your healing heart reach us all as we live through this each in our own way, each with our own grief on this, our journey Into the Mystic.


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