Wilderness

The Psalmist sums up exactly where we have been, you and I, these past many days.  If there’s been any time in our collective lives where it has felt like we are sinking to the depths of the ocean, that the water has washed over us and we are drowning, that time is now.  “From the depths I call out to you, O Lord God, please hear my cry.”  Please, Lord, do not leave me to fend for myself, I need you. It feels like this is it.  That the end is coming upon us, and I don’t know what to do. God, help.

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A number of years ago I was on a weeklong Lenten retreat at a monastery. I stayed at the guesthouse of the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Newburyport, MA which is this tremendously beautiful old New England farmhouse. I’ve forgotten now what the topic was that week for the times of reflection followed by long stretches of silence, but I do remember that this date fell during that time.

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It happened again today. I got sucked in to social media sites, first checking the latest news (not good), then getting the updates from friends I’ve not seen since high school (how to do home schooling), and then a chuckling at a few dozen memes before checking the news again and restarting the whole process.

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I’m not sure about you, but I really needed to hear the words of the 23rd Psalm this morning.  We’ll read it again on Good Shepherd Sunday—the 4th Sunday of Easter, 6 weeks from now—but it’s a balm right now, at a time when the world as we have known it slips away and we don’t know how to respond.  I’m grateful for this “psalm of sustenance,” as one commentator put it, in a time when nourishment for our souls seems nearly impossible to find.

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This past week I had to keep asking myself what day it was. I got up at my normal time every day and did my morning routine, but after that all bets were off. I didn’t drive the kids to school like I normally do. My calendar quickly cleared out as first a Bible study, and then a coffee with one parishioner and a lunch with another got pushed off indefinitely. On Wednesday I didn’t have the follow-up doctor’s appointment that could wait, and I spent Thursday in virtual meetings that would have happened in person otherwise.

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