The New Reality

We went to a friend’s wedding at the end of October and when we got back, the baby was getting a cold.  She had an ear infection by Friday, when I left on the confirmation retreat, but was feeling better by Sunday when I flew to Pennsylvania to speak at Lafayette College.  The kids were home on election day for records planning day when I flew home, and Fiona got a strep diagnosis right before we went to vote. Still, she and her sister helped me fill out the ballot.

Everybody stayed home Wednesday. Josh and I had coughs by then, and Cal was congested.  We were glad to have a day when we didn’t have to see anyone. When we could stay at home with our kids and try to face the panic.

Josh was out of town the following weekend for a writing retreat and while the miles separated us, the mutual evolution of our chest colds bound us together. Over the course of the month we were all on antibiotics. Everyone spent time vomiting; we spent a fortune in co-pays and cough drops.   A week off of work and school for Thanksgiving helped a bit, but we still could not kick it.

Our grief prolonged our illness. I believe that. We are not sleeping; we are anxious. Josh and I read the constant horrors and offenses of the president elect that emerge on a daily basis. How can it be? The vigilance is exhausting and necessary. How will we manage for the long haul?

I climbed into the pulpit the Sunday after the election and preached the rawest sermon of my career. Gave voice to my grief, my concern for what this will mean for so many.

It elicited some feedback.

One of the things I most value about ministry is the freedom of the pulpit — this is my sermon; my witness to the Gospel in a particular time and place.  I did not feel like I was chucking a grenade into the life of the church, but offering a word to those who were also afraid and grieving. But there were those who were offended by my tone.

I love to preach, consider it privilege and responsibility. That week, I experienced it as both burden and gift.

In the car on the way to school this morning, Fiona said, Mom! I think I’m not sick anymore!

Cal coughed.

The baby sneezed.

One step forward, one back.

A victory at Standing Rock; another million causes for grief and worry.

My friend Katherine, wrote about grief this week, and love, as her family dog died unexpectedly. We commit to love, even when we are hurting. That’s the genius of peaceful protest, of the way of Christ, of the bonds which hold us together.

I was talking to another friend yesterday, about what a hard year 2016 has been. I joked, at least next year can’t get worse.  She, brilliant faith leader that she is, replied, Oh, 2017 is gonna be way worse. But we know who we need to be in the face of that, so we have that going for us.

It’s Advent now. We’re waiting for God to be born in a hurting world. We need it this year, as ever. But we wait with hope, we wait with preparation, knowing who we are and who we need to be in the new reality. Bearers of light, bearers of love; grieving but convicted; longing and working for the healing of the nations.


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My twitter tagline is "Fiercely interested in most things." Writer, mom, pastor, spouse, daughter, sister, citizen -- not in any order, and usually all at once. Nearly life-long resident of Cook County, IL, for better and for worse.

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