Have you ever walked away from a conversation obsessing over what you should have said instead? What would have been better? What could have been clearer?
I felt that way after last week’s webinar on Living Well After the Pandemic hosted by Faith Today. It was an honour for me to be invited as one of four guests to talk about what we’ve learned from the pandemic, and how we might move forward from here. It was a new experience for me since I didn’t know the other guests or the two moderators well, and hadn’t been part of that kind of webinar before. I’m glad I was able to take part, and I learned a lot—but afterward I came down with a bad case of “coulda woulda shoulda.”
Of course there’s no do-over for a live event, but to lay my coulda woulda shoulda thoughts to rest, I wanted to add here that if I were asked today what I learned from the pandemic, I’d say that my biggest lesson from the pandemic was that the pandemic was not actually the biggest thing.
Yes, COVID-19 has been life changing, world changing, and the pandemic made everything more complicated. When my husband had a medical emergency last fall, the pandemic meant that I couldn’t go with him to emergency. The pandemic meant that I was not allowed to see him until Day 8 of his hospital stay, and then had to wait another week before I could see him again. So the pandemic had a huge impact on our personal situation.
But the enormity of my husband’s health challenges loomed so much larger for us than the pandemic itself. And they continue to do so today, for even as we seem to be emerging from the worst of the pandemic, those health challenges continue to be as life-altering as when they appeared last fall.
At the height of our crisis, a prayer came to me immediately: “Make haste to help him, O God.” The words echo the last verse of Psalm 38, but I didn’t think about that at the time. I didn’t consciously choose those words. It’s as if God gave me that prayer in that moment, and those words have stayed with me as a constant refrain—all through my husband’s six weeks in the hospital, through his recovery at home, and even now as he continues with various treatments. “Make haste to help him, O God,” I pray over him every day. “Make haste to help me, O God,” I pray as I do my best to support him.
I often find myself praying those same words over others. Make haste to help us in our grief, confession, and repentance over the devastating discovery at the residential school in Kamloops. Make haste to help those who have been targets of discrimination and hatred. Make haste to help all those who are hurting during this time. These days it’s almost as if the words are praying me.
So while the pandemic has been huge for this last year and more, the particulars of our personal situation have loomed larger. The persistent injustices in our world were there pre-pandemic and still need addressing post-pandemic. And the spiritual lessons from this time give me much needed perspective and hope: the enduring power of Scripture even in times of crisis, the constant rhythm of prayer, and how God is truly present with us in every circumstance of life. These are some of the lessons I’ve learned during this pandemic, and hope to carry forward.
Thank you to Faith Today for the opportunity to be part of this conversation:
Writing/Reflection Prompt: What lessons have you learned during this pandemic?
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5 thoughts on “Pandemic Lessons to Carry Forward”
April, I listened to the podcast last week and appreciated very much how your comments added to the discussion. Knowing of your personal situation, I was wishing (near the end) that the facilitators would ask you something related to that. Then I realized they probably didn’t know about it. I was so glad you were able to mention it in reply to the final question. It is a reality for you (and for others) and covid only makes so many challenging circumstances even more challenging. I am currently reading Tish Harrison Warren’s book Prayer in the Night. Are you familiar with it? She bases her writing on one of the Anglican Compline prayers: “Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, sooth the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”
Thank you so much, Helen. As we gathered online before the webinar started, one of the facilitators said this conversation had been planned because it likely wouldn’t have happened any other way. That was certainly true in my case, since I had only met one of the other guests, and while I had heard of the others, I hadn’t met them at all before. So it was a great opportunity for me to talk with them for the webinar. And thank you for mentioning Tish Harrison Warren’s book – I have read it yet, but I have it on my list.
A compline prayer that brings comfort in those times of stress when there doesn’t seem to be a way forward.
As a teenager and young adult, I attended a Baptist church, and one Sunday night we had a compline service in the church sanctuary. We spread ourselves out throughout the darkened sanctuary, and some of us had brought pillows. For us it was simply a different way of praying and listening to music, but I look forward to learning more about the rich history and practice of compline.