Last night just before 7 o’clock, I grabbed my wooden spoon and pot lid from the table just inside our front door where I had left them the night before. Then I headed up the hill toward our mailroom where a few of our neighbours would soon gather outside for the evening tribute to healthcare and other frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
We chatted as we gathered, standing the required 2 meters and more between households. A few wore masks even though we were well-spaced and outside. A few had wooden spoons and metal pans. A few had bells. One brought a chopstick and a small pot. There were only a dozen of us, but at 7 o’clock, we made quite a racket!
As I stood in the sunshine making noise with the neighbours, it felt like a celebration of sorts—a tribute to healthcare and other frontline workers to be sure, for that’s why we had come together. But as I looked around at those who had gathered, it felt like a celebration of being neighbours together too. I had never even met some of them before the novel coronavirus, and in a strange irony, the isolation of the pandemic had brought us together. So while I banged my pot lid to honour and thank our healthcare and other frontline workers, I couldn’t help but include my neighbours too. I was glad we could do this together.
As we raised our collective thanks for the hard work and sacrifice of so many, for me it also felt like lament—lament for the lives that have been lost, for those suffering from the isolation and loneliness, for those who are sick, for those who have lost loved ones without being able to be with them or to mourn together with family and friends. I lamented over those facing abuse at home, over those losing a job or a business, over those experiencing COVID-19 related racism.
I thought too of our neighbours to the south, and lamented the death of an unarmed black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last Monday. Since then protests across the United States have led to at least 40 cities declaring curfews and the National Guard mobilized in 15 states and Washington, D.C. On top of COVID, on top of the economic stress that both disproportionately impact African Americans, the unjust death of George Floyd was more brutal evidence of the racism that continues to plague the country. So I banged my pot lid for George Floyd and his family too, for Minneapolis and Atlanta and Los Angeles and all the cities in turmoil.
It’s a rather odd custom to gather at 7 o’clock each evening to bang a pot lid with the neighbours. I only made it a few times, since I didn’t even realize it was happening, and last night was the final gathering. “We’re in Phase 2 with things opening up again.” “The kids are back in school this week.” “We’ll still do it some nights just in our own back yard.” It made sense to end the evening tribute to mark this next phase of recovery.
And yet I know I’ll miss it too. My lament is still rising—beyond the tears and fears of this world, beyond the sky washed clear by the storm the day before, beyond the sliver of moon that hung over our little band of noisemakers. O Spirit of the Living God, bring your justice and your peace.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: How have you been marking these days of pandemic and recovery?
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