Devotions from Tri-City ELCA Pastors – Pastor Tia of Christ the King, May 13, 2020

60 days of Shelter-in-place in Alameda County as of today! 60 days mostly spent at home with the three people I love most. 60 days in which I have been thinking all of the following repeatedly in any order possible:

“This is crazy! Ah, what’s so bad about hunkering down at home anyways? This is insane! If this goes any longer than a month, I will be a mess. I have got it all figured out. Whaaaaa! I can reach so many people via Email and Zoom and YouTube and Facebook. My kids are going to be ahead of their peers by 2 grades after this thanks to their super skilled parent-teachers. I can’t do this anymore! I am so glad to spend so much time with my family. This is a great chance for me as a new pastor to talk to all my parishioners via phone. I just want to pretend this virus isn’t true. If this goes any longer than two months, I will be a huge mess. My kids will have to go back to preschool after this, they are totally regressing. I cannot get enough News! I am zoomed out. Can someone just kidnap me into solitude? I hate News. Where is my phone? I am zoomed out. Wouldn’t it be great to actually meet my congregation in-person? If I didn’t have kids, I would binge watch Netflix and Kanopy and Hulu and Cable TV. I need a break! It’s so comforting to know that my family is around me 24/7. When do the kids go to bed? It’s only 5 pm? No kidding. This will go on for months? Oh. When can I drink a glass of wine? It’s only 3 pm? No kidding. I am so tired. It’s Wednesday, again.”

I am somehow amazed that we still love each-other at our place. Given, that we constantly walk into each other’s Zoom meetings and work-calls. Given that I have this new habit when entering our bedroom/ office: I open the door, try to get my husband’s attention under his noise-canceling headphones and I mouth: “meeting?” and enter if he shakes his head. If he nods, I just throw the laundry/ book/ jacket/ binder onto the bed and close the door again.

The kids show up crying during my council meetings. Thank God, I am very skilled in muting myself super quickly by now. If things go really bad, I shut off the video as well. During my live Zoom worship-service the kids play in their room until they decide to jump through the hallway, screaming like birds, because that’s what they pretend to be. While the lector reads the Psalm and firsts lesson, I have enough time to yell instructions to play quietly. And no, this is not quiet. Nooo! The lector stops reading, I nod to my husband. That means “unmute me”, he gives me a thumbs up and I start reading the Gospel. Eventually, both kids walk into my sermon because “Mom, we thought you were already doing communion.” Their favorite part of the entire service. During communion, Theo nearly finished the chalice filled with juice before anyone else got a sip. My husband just comments: “He better doesn’t do that back at church.” And I add: “Especially not with wine.” We start giggling.

I embarrass my kids by walking into their Zoom meetings. Until they need help, because they clicked something and the video is gone or they accidentally left the meeting. Or I hear a kid open the door to the backyard, just about to walk out of the meeting. They have learned, that if they shut off their video and voice, the teacher won’t know whether they actually listen… Attendance still counts, right?

60 days of crazily crazy craziness I thought I wouldn’t survive for a month. And here we are. Showing each-other our rawness and fears, sharing our laughter and silliness. Talking more than ever, eating too much ice-cream, getting mad at each-other for absolutely nothing, screaming out of fear and sometimes out of pure joy, crying, mumbling a “sorry” combined with a big hug. 

And day by day, we are learning what Ephesians 4;32 means: To be more kind and compassionate to one another. Because there is no other way out without going nuts. We are learning to forgive one another much quicker. Because there is no other way out without going nuts. Just as in Christ God forgave us. Because there was no other way out without going nuts.

Stay safe and shelter-in-peace, Pr Tia!

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