One Year Ago
March 9, 2021
How lonely sits the city
that once was full of people!...
The roads to Zion mourn,
for no one comes to the festivals.
~ Lamentations 1
A first anniversary is a tender thing. Just ask anyone who has recently lost a parent, a spouse, or a child. That date on the calendar can seem so far away. Then all of a sudden there is an ache in your chest, or a sleepless night out of nowhere, or a shadow that passes across your eyes and won’t lift. The heart is usually the first to know about an anniversary. The heart speaks volumes before the mind can catch up.
And here we are, beloved of First United. Here we are at the anniversary of COVID for our church. We have had a full year of online worship services, a full year of Zoom meetings, a full year of weddings put off and funerals put through the looking glass, a full year of trying to hang together while being physically apart, a full year of…well…hardship.
An anniversary is hard. It brings to the surface again all that has been lost. And that loss breaks like a wave. This whole month will be a challenging one for everyone you know. Because this is not simply one anniversary, but many. For some, what will bring the memories back is the anniversary of the last time they took the "L" to their office downtown. For others, what will be most resonant will be the anniversary of the state of Illinois stay-at-home order. For others, it will be something small and personal like the anniversary of the last time they ate out at a restaurant. For me that was Saturday, March 7 when I sat down in George’s and there was not a single other customer in the place and it all felt terribly wrong.
It’s a small thing, a silly thing, to remember corned beef hash and eggs. But there it is. This will be a hard few weeks. Devote yourself to praying every day. Read through the book of Lamentations. Know that God hears us and knows us in our grief. Go for a walk and feel the sunshine on your face. Listen to the birdsong returning. Look for shoots of flowers. Be extra kind to your loved ones, be extra kind to the grocery checkers, be extra kind to yourselves.
There is, of course, much to be hopeful about as well. The overall public health situation in our country is improved. Members of the congregation are beginning to be vaccinated. There are even now a handful of members who have been fully vaccinated. These improvements have allowed church leadership including our Public Health Task Force to begin considering what might sorts of church activity might safely be done in-person. I promise any such decisions will be made carefully. And I promise they will be made thoughtfully.
I want to close with a note of gratitude. Leading the church in this time has allowed me to keep an even keel. It has given my days meaning and my weeks a structure. It has given me the chance to laugh and sing and mourn and worship the God in whom we place our ultimate hope.
I remain gratefully yours,
First United Church of Oak Park