It is October! Why am I so giddy? I have learned to greet the month with glee. I was born on the 2nd day and therefore long ago decided that I may claim the entire month as a celebration of being alive on this planet. I am convinced that the color in the leaves soaks into my psyche and paints my inner sacred space with all the colors of a burning bush. I am conscious of impending harvest in many forms. I am often restless and deeply calm, simultaneously. It is a month that – to me – feels like the word: simmer.
This year is no different. And. This year is entirely different. I have read various interpretations of what is happening to us as a collective after more than six months of distanced interactions. Of isolation. Of interruptions, changes, rearrangements, cancellations, new technologies, the list goes on and on. We are living in a time in which change is the norm, and that is only sometimes good news.
When we first began responding to the dangers brought about by the global pandemic in our midst, we were often operating in what I think of now as a “haze of adrenaline.” We were in a mode of radical response. We did things we couldn’t have imagined doing before. We found new ways to do things we had never imagined needing to do differently before. It felt almost heroic sometimes! It felt large and important. Our commitments to safety – our own and our broader communities’ – were clear. These were the “Day One” kinds of experiences.
Whether in a movie script, a joke, or a life experience, Day One is the day where the playing field is laid. Even when it is inconvenient or frightening, Day One is an exciting time of change and adaptation with expectation drenching everything. We tend to become highly aware of our resources – internal ones and shared ones, too. We process a lot! Changes are often big ones, and happen fast. Our sense of time wants to disappear. The time is NOW!
Until the time starts feeling like WHEN? Now comes “Day Two.” If only it were just one day. It is not. It is the longest of days. It is like the days in which the Genesis story fits the creation of the world. Long cycles of configuration. Re-sorting. It is like Dr. Seuss’ “waiting place” (from “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”), a place nobody wants to stay. It is overly ordinary. In a screen-writers blog I found a description of Day Two (I paraphrase somewhat): Day Two is when you try every way you know how to remedy the problem/conflict/situation by means that will not work. If a solution is found, it is no longer Day Two. Fatigue is so, very real. This is the ‘day’ of sleepless nights. It is a time for both nightmares and dreams. Of course, we are worried. So many expectations we used to use to peg our tents have blown away. Of course, we are hopeful. So many possible new ways of re-pegging our tents have blown in and are collecting in our corners.
The very best news about this Day Two for us in this congregation is that we may find meaning in our collective response. The bishop wrote recently and his note was peppered with words like these: gratitude, diligence, perseverance, creativity, imagination and commitment. He urges that we engage in decision making prayerfully, thoughtfully, and with a commitment to our profound love of all God’s people. I can only imagine how many times it took to find these words he wrote,
“Christmas is coming. As painful as this is to think about, it is unlikely that we will be able to have a large number of people together, shoulder to shoulder, on Christmas Eve holding candles and singing “Silent Night.”
He continues by saying we will lament that loss, and we will, of course. Then he says,
“And then, remembering Mary and Joseph who left what was comfortable to go on a journey to Bethlehem, start preparing for Christmas in fresh and new ways. Things won’t look and feel like they used to, but that was the case at Jesus’ birth too— he was God’s in-breaking in startling new ways.”
These are words that remind us there will be, eventually, a “Day Three.” A day when our solutions are found, celebrations and reunions occur, and we begin to describe our new world. I am so proud of you. You are kind and generous and offer grace to each other. You are wise and patient and careful of the Greatest Good. Please continue to be gentle, most especially with yourselves. Continue to reach out to one another to make certain that we “hang in there,” caring for one another. And…enjoy October!