For many families across the Seattle area, the big news this week has been around school. Due to the high levels of Covid-19 in the area, most of our public schools have made the announcement that education will be all remote in the fall. For some this has been a relief, worrying about the health of teachers, students and families. For some this may have led to wailing and gnashing of teeth (without much exaggeration).
My experience of this extended season of Covid has been one of extended grief and pressure.
I think that we have all felt the rolling movement of losses over this time. You experience one loss and grieve it – feel its pain fully, recognizing its pain and loss. No sooner have you found yourself on the other side, when you are struck by the news that you need to say goodbye to something else. It can be exhausting as one thing after another is lost, and dwelling in the uncertainty in between. I am thinking of all the kids today who were sad over the loss of 2 weeks of school, then 6, then sports teams, dances, graduations and the end of the year, and now looking towards the beginning of the fall. Grief doesn’t mean that it wasn’t the right choice, but acknowledges that the loss was meaningful.
The other feeling I have experienced over these past months has been pressure, as we feel the forces from multiple fronts that bring up feelings of desperation. As this public health crisis has been paired with an economic crisis, many are worried about their livelihoods and how they are going to pay the rent. Many who were near the edge of the cliff are feeling pushed over it. Those who live alone are feeling deeply isolated, especially our elders receiving care. For parents who are juggling seemingly impossible roles, facing an undefined season of remote learning and employment—there can feel like there are no options. And as we grapple with the present injustices of racism, we are seeing the looming threats of government force.
When we are feeling pressure, the tendency is to try to move the pain to someone else. As choices narrow, it is “health vs. economy”, “teachers vs. parents”, “my health vs. someone else’s”. We are seeing the burdens of this time fall disproportionately on people of color, as the health and lives of black and brown folks are being put at greater risk. We are seeing the inequalities that already exist be exacerbated by the pressures put upon them. As we move from public solutions, to private ways to “make it work”, it will only increase the inequality of those who have more influence, power, and privilege. I am deeply worried that we will see white parents able to create better private solutions for their kids that will increase the racial disparities in our public education. I recognize the deep contradiction in this, as a white parent trying to find a solution for my kid too.
If you are feeling grief and pressure right now, take a deep breath. Your pain has a place in God. From the small “I shouldn’t even be complaining” losses, up to the grave moral injustices of our time, there is a place in God for our hurt, for our lament and for our pain. God meets you here in the loss.
And if what you are feeling is pressure, this is my prayer. May we put the pressure in the place where it belongs, where it can move us into a world of more justice and hope. Many of our either/or choices are too narrow. If we are open, God has a bigger imagination, inviting us from a “how will this work for me” into “how can we create a world of peace, justice, and love.” There are possibilities which exist for how we could make better choices for the public good. We may have failed at this time and time again, and yet God is still here, calling forth visions of new possibilities, of both/ands, of ways that we can address a situation with courage and love. God’s grace doesn’t come to us in the perfection, but in the messiness of even a moment like this. This pressure that we feel has its rightful place in birthing a new community life.
May God hold us in the griefs of this season, and push us to transform into a world of more compassion, courage, and justice.